Indian media: Election strategies

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is leading the BJP's poll campaign strategy
Image caption Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is leading the BJP's poll campaign strategy

Media in India are discussing the poll strategies of the ruling Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the general elections due next year.

The Congress party-led government on Monday appointed new ministers, including leaders from the states so far under-represented in the cabinet.

But the newspapers do not seem too impressed with the ruling party's political moves.

The Indian Express, in an editorial, says the cabinet reshuffle was "at best underwhelming".

The papers feel the Congress could have done better, especially when the BJP-led opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) stands divided after the withdrawal of the Janata Dal (United), a key ally.

The Asian Age says the change in the cabinet seems "unglamorous" when viewed "in the backdrop of cataclysmic happenings in the opposition NDA".

The Times of India feels the parties' moves "may eventually advance a churning in the political system and throw up different configurations in the months preceding the parliamentary polls".

The papers are also highlighting the havoc wreaked by the monsoon rains, particularly in the northern state of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, where at least 70 people have died and thousands are stranded due to landslides.

The Pioneer, The Times of India and the Hindustan Times in their headlines have described the floods as "monsoon woes", "monsoon fury" and the "killer rain".

Concerns over monuments

Meanwhile, Hindi daily Dainik Jagran has raised concern over "rampant encroachment" by builders around the famous Qutub Minar monument in Delhi.

The paper says the area has about 80 ancient monuments, but slums, settlements and illegal land deals are now threatening their existence.

Also in Delhi, a new helpline has been launched for lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people to help them discuss their issues more openly, reports The Hindu.

"Launched earlier this month by feminist non-profit organisation Qashti, the helpline seeks to address queries on sexuality, orientation as well as make interventions wherever required," the paper adds.

Moving on to an inspiring initiative, 20-year-old Sarita Prabhakar's campaign in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state has helped reduce the number of child marriages in the area, The Hindu reports.

Sarita opposed her own marriage when she was 14 and went on to train herself in health management for a stable job. Buoyed by her success, she started a successful campaign against child marriages in the district and now girls are trained in livelihood skills instead of being married early, the paper adds.

Meanwhile, a Madras (Chennai) High Court order has given a "new twist to the concept of pre-marital sex", The Times of India reports.

The order came after a woman filed a petition seeking maintenance for herself and her two children from her estranged husband. The man, however, told the court that they were only co-workers and never married, the paper says.

But the court felt the woman was still entitled to maintenance.

"The main legal aspect for a valid marriage is consummation or sexual interaction between the adults, Justice CS Karnan held, adding that legal rights applicable to normal wedded couples will be applicable to couples who have had sexual relationships which are established," the paper said.

And finally, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary will smile on camera again, this time at the Wimbledon final.

Pinki Sonkar was made famous through the short film Smile Pinki, which captured her life-changing cleft repair surgery.

The 11-year-old will travel from her village in India to London to represent the non-profit organisation Smile Train, which has been picked as the charity partner to toss the coin at the men's singles final event, reports the Mid-Day newspaper.

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