How Jagran and Ujala covered UP: Part II

BY ANKITA PANDEY| IN Media Monitoring | 25/02/2017
Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala were pretty balanced but one striking failure was putting tough questions to politicians on behalf of their readers
Mayawati received mostly positive coverage in both newspapers, finds ANKITA PANDEY

Dainik Jagran, February 7, Page 1 (Boxes in Orange,Blue, Green and Red indicate the news about Rahul, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh.) 
Amar Ujala, February 6, Page 4 (Boxes in Orange, Blue, Green indicate the news about Rahul, Akhilesh, Mayawati. Yellow box indicates Siyasi Kissa.)


The first part of the article discussed the coverage of UP elections in respect of parties, leaders and locations between February 1 and 15. The second part looks at the issues, newspapers’ presentation style, women, and independent candidates covered by Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala.

1. Issues

The newspapers note that the real issues are being neglected by the parties (Lahar na bayar muddo par bhari jatiya siyasat, Neither a wave, nor a breeze, caste politics outweigh real issues, February 5, page 15, Jagran; Ujala’s editorial Kitna Badlega Uttar Pradesh, How much will UP change, February 11;Patralekha Chatterji’s op-ed piece in Ujala, Chunav se gayab janta ke mudde, People’s issues have disappeared from the election, February 11). Both newspapers highlighted community-based appeals to voters (Image 6).


Amar Ujala, February 10, Page 1 ; Amar Ujala, February 14, Page 5 ; Image 6 [Image numbers continue from part 1]

Both newspapers published constituency-level investigative reports on the problems of the people, industrialists, and farmers (Rampur mein udyog dhandhe chaupat, Rozgar ko taras rahe yuva, Industry and trade collapse in Rampur, Youth waiting for emplyment, February 1, page 6, Ujala). Jagran published more reports on the longstanding problems of industries (Muflis sansthaon ke sahare audyogik vikas-vistar, Expansion of industries left to under-funded organisations, February 8, Page 13). In another report, Jagran highlighted the role of Make in India initiated by the central government (Sarkari sahuliyaton ki baant jorahi pashchim ki   audyogik ikaiyan, Industrial units in western UP waiting for government support, February 9, Page 14). 

"Both newspapers published constituency-level investigative reports on the problems of the people, industrialists, and farmers."

Similarly, on February 11, Ujala published a photo of a government employee working at a polling station by candle light, raising the issue of bad management in local administration on the front page (Image 10). The issue of demonetisation was raised by political parties, but the newspapers’ own assessment did not attach much importance to it. As a result, very few independent items relating to demonetisation and elections were published (Image 7).

Both newspapers discussed palayan, i.e., forced migration from Kairana (Mudda to hai hi palayan, Forced migration is an issue, February 4, page 16, Jagran), parivarvad, i.e., nepotism (Nayi peedhi ki dastak, Initiation of the next generation of political families, February 11, page 8, Ujala), tainted and rich candidates, and women candidates. Both covered the reports of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and UP election watch in multiple installments. Jagran (Sabhi ne utare dagi – All parties field tainted candidates,February 5, page 3) and Ujala (BSP mein sarvadhik crorepati, sabse jyada dagi BJP mein – BSP field most crorepatis, most tainted in BJP, February 5, backside of the additional front page) covered the report of ADR on rich and tainted candidates. Ujala’s title directly identified the BSP and BJP.

Both newspapers highlighted the statements of BJP members about Kairana (forced migration of Hindus), triple talaq (uniform civil code/women empowerment), cancellation of the reservation policy in Aligarh Muslim University (reservation), and the murder of businessman Shravan Sahu (issue of law and order in UP).

While leaders of most parties avoided directly responding to these issues, Mayawati blamed the BJP for creating fear among Muslims by giving statements on tripal talaq, cow protection, love jihad, and interference in Muslim Personal Law (Arakshan khatam karna chahte hai Modi, Modi wants to abolish reservation, February 11, page 16, Jagran). Naseemuddin Siddiqui warned Amit Shah on the issue of triple talaq and asked him to first handle the issue of PM Modi’s separation from his wife (Teen Talak ke masale par hastkshep na kare Amit Shah, Amit Shah should not interfere in triple talaq, February 14, page 11, Jagran)(Image 8).

2. Presentation

Akhilesh Yadav’s rallies were covered under the first headline on the front and election pages between February 1 and 4. But, once PM Narendra Modi started addressing rallies, Akhilesh became the second priority of the two newspapers’ front pages. News about Rahul Gandhi was always located below the news or to the right of the news on Akhilesh or in news on Akhilesh (Image 9).

But, on February 12 in Jagran, the day after first polling, Akhilesh along with Rahul received more space compared to any other party. February 12 coverage of Akhilesh in Jagran exceeded the space this newspaper had given to any party or individual on any day between February 1 and 15.

Among interviews published in Jagran, Akhilesh’s interview just one day after the first phase of polling received the maximum space (page 14). Ujala also covered the press conference of Akhilesh and Rahul (SP-Congress gath bandhan ki dus prathamiktaien, Ten priorities of SP-Congress alliance, February 12, page4) on half a page.

"On February 12 in Jagran, the day after first polling, Akhilesh along with Rahul received more space compared to any other party. "

On the same day, Ujala highlighted the BJP’s success in the MLC elections in a report spread over almost half a page (Page 9) and also in a front page box, whereas Jagran covered this only in a small front page box. Interestingly, Jagran’s website had carried an exit poll on February 12 that showed the BJP was ahead in the first phase, whereas the print edition gave a lot of space to Akhilesh on the same day.

Neither Ujala, nor Jagran carried news about the exit poll. Ujala covered this issue on February 15 in a brief news item on page 16. It mentioned the arrest and bail of an editor, but did not name the editor or the media organisation. Dainik Jagran raised the issue of violation of the model code by political parties (Udrahi haiaachar sanhita ki dhajjiyan, Model code being violated flagrantly, February 12, page 10), but did not mention its own negligence.

The BSP did not receive more space than the SP or BJP on any day in either newspaper. Whenever it covered Akhilesh, Ujala tried to give space to Mayawati on the same page and also provided a comparative assessment of the two parties (e.g., “Udyog lagane aur roj gardi lane me Akhilesh, nivesh lane me Mayawati rahi aage” – Akhilesh ahead in bringing industries and jobs, Mayawati ahead in bringing investment, February 2, page 6).

"Unlike Akhilesh, who was mocked on a few occasions, Mayawati received mostly positive coverage in both newspapers and no cartoon was published on her."

Unlike Akhilesh, who was mocked on a few occasions, Mayawati received mostly positive coverage in both newspapers and no cartoon was published on her. For example, Ujala mocked Akhilesh’s statement during his rally in Sindhauli “Unki kanun vyavstha to hamse bhi kharab, Their law and order situation is worse than ours, February 7, page 6” (Image 10). In this statement, Akhilesh indirectly accepted that at present the law and order situation of UP was bad.


Mayawati was not usually criticised on any issue. For example, Ujala (Voton ki fasallah lahane koy aadaayaganna, Sugarcane remembered to harvest votes, February 7, page 4 and Voto ki fasal ke liye hi yaad aate hai  kisan, Farmers remembered to harvest votes,February 15, page 4) criticised both the SP and the BJP on the plight of sugarcane farmers, but there was no mention of the BSP (Image 11). This is possibly because the SP is in power in the state and the BJP is in power at the centre.

The BJP was generally highlighted as a party facing opposition from Muslim groups (Modi zindabad kahne par eent-pathar barse, Chants of Long Live Modi attract stone pelting, February 6, Page 12, Jagran). Contrary to popular perception that the BJP is responsible for communal tensions, Mayawati attacked the BJP as an anti-reservation party and held the SP responsible for communal riots (SP se alpsankhay kon kamoh bhang, Minorities disillusioned with SP, February 4, page 12, Jagran). Both newspapers published news about the support of Muslim groups to Mayawati (Muslim sangathano ne kia BSP kasath dene kaahawan, Muslim organisations call for supporting BSP, February 1, page 11 Jagran). Also, both newspapers reported that Muslim religious leaders expressed their faith either in the SP or BSP (Muslim voton ke liye parvan par siyasat, Politics for capturing Muslim votes at zenith, February 11, page 5, Ujala).

"Contrary to popular perception that the BJP is responsible for communal tensions, Mayawati attacked the BJP as an anti-reservation party and held the SP responsible for communal riots."

In addition to covering rallies, statements, and interviews of BJP leaders, Ujala published seven inspiring stories of BJP leaders such as Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Kalyan Singh in a boxed feature named ‘Siyasi Kissa’ (Political story) (February 5-8, 10, 11, 15) (Image 9 and 13).

Ujala also explored the role of the RSS in “BJP ke damage ko control karenge ‘Panna Pramukh’, List in-charges in damage control mode, February 3, page 2” and “BJP me asantosh par Sangh ki paini nazar, RSS keeps an eye on the discontent within the BJP, February 2, page 6”, “Parde ke piche se sangh lad raha hai jung, RSS is fighting from behind, February 11, page 8”.

Jagran highlighted the undignified attacks by political parties against the RSS (Raj Babbar ne kaha, abki baar half pant fad do, Tear half pants this time, February 4, page 14) (Image 8). On February 9 and 10, i.e., ahead of the Phase 1 polling, the BJP received the maximum space on the front pages of Ujala pushing the SP and BSP to the margins (Image 12a). Ujala published a long interview with  Amit Shah on February 10. Jagran published more analytical reports on the BJP than on the SP, BSP and RLD (e.g., Rashtriya manak par UP ko lane kichunauti, February 1).


Jagran’s cartoon section gave special coverage to the BJP/prime minister, publishing one cartoon highlighting the positive effects of demonetisation (February 2) and two others that used the prime minister’s statements to mock the opposition (February 8 and 14) (Image 12b).


3. Women

Among women campaigners Mayawati, four time chief minister of UP, president of the BSP, and the party’s only woman star campaigner, received the highest coverage. The BJP fielded more women campaigners compared to the other parties. The BJP’s Uma Bharti, Smriti Irani, Hema Malini, Nirmala Sitharaman, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, and Swati Singh were covered by both newspapers. Ujala highlighted the fact that the BJP gave more tickets to women (Is baar mahilao ko sabse jyada ticket BJP ne diye, BJP gave more tickets to women, February 1, page 6).

The newspapers also covered Aparna Yadav (daughter-in-law of Mulayam Singh) for her first election, but the SP relied on only Dimple Yadav and Jaya Bachhan to campaign. Dimple was given more coverage compared to Jaya Bachhan. Charu Chaudhary, daughter-in-law of the RLD’s President Ajit Chaudhary, was covered only once. Ujala published her photo during the campaigning in an open jeep (February 7, page 6).

Sonia Gandhi, President of Congress, was covered only once for campaign planning, but did not receive coverage the way Mulayam Singh and Priyanaka Gandhi did. Priyanka did not campaign in the first and second phase of polls but her campaign planning was covered in both newspapers. Ujala gave her significant coverage (Image 13).

The youngest women campaigner, Anupriya Patel, president of the Apna Dal and currently minister of state, received coverage for her rallies, ticket distribution, and alliance with the BJP (Image 13). The CPI’s Subhashini Ali was also covered once in Ujala. The political fight between Garima Singh and Amita Singh in Amethi constituency was also highlighted because of their “royal” background.


4. Independent candidates

Rebel or independent candidates were covered in analytical pieces but otherwise did not receive any attention in either newspaper. Rebel candidates were covered for either resigning from the party, joining another party, or for raising questions against their parent parties. One rebel candidate was covered for his innovative campaign. Ujala published a standalone photo (along with a long caption) of Gopal Nishad, who went to file his nomination in a funeral-like procession (Image 14). Aman Mani Tripathi, an independent candidate who belongs to a high profile political family and is out on bail in a murder case, was covered in a news item published along with a photo in Ujala (February 14, page 7) (Image 14).


The election coverage in Dainik Jagran was more analytical, while Amar Ujala’s coverage was more informative in nature. Ujala’s headlines were more communicative. The paper published more full-fledged interviews compared to Jagran which published only short interviews. Neither newspaper tried to guess the outcome of the UP elections.

The uncertainty about the elections is reflected in the lack of editorials and op-eds. Jagran published three op-ed articles (February 3 and 9) and two editorials (Voter Zindabad, Long live voters, February 12 and Patanki Parakashtha, Depths of decline, February 9) on UP elections, but not directly related to party politics or the election campaign. Likewise Ujala published four op-ed articles (February 9, 11, 12 and 13), including two that discussed the issue in passing, and one editorial (Kitna badlega Uttar Pradesh, How much will UP change, February 11) on the elections.

The real issues of the constituencies were neglected by all parties. As usual political, leaders made promises and attacked other political parties. Mayawati tried to influence minority voters and asked Dalit voters to maintain a distance from the BJP. Akhilesh justified the alliance with Congress and denied any conflict with Mulayam Singh in almost every rally. He also tried to divert attention from his poor law and order record by comparing UP with BJP-ruled states and presenting himself as newcomer in politics.

The Congress campaigned as a secondary party in alliance with the SP. It announced its separate manifesto on February 8 two days before the first phase polling. Unlike Mulayam Singh, Sonia Gandhi did not receive much coverage. The BJP was forced to explain its stand on the reservation policy. Both newspapers published constituency-level investigative reports on the problems of the people, industrialists, and farmers. However, neither newspaper raised these issues while interviewing leaders. In fact, the interviews published during the period can be seen as just another form of campaigning. Ujala published more interviews than Jagran.

Out of the 45 parties contesting the elections, both newspapers paid attention mainly to five parties namely the BJP, SP, BSP, Congress, RLD and Apna Dal. Since the newspapers’ coverage was rally and personality centric, more well-known campaigners meant more coverage. The BJP received greater coverage in both newspapers due to a large number of star campaigners. While the BSP received less coverage than the SP, it did not receive any negative coverage, unlike the latter.

Ujala mocked Akhilesh in headlines, while Jagran mocked him in cartoons, but in both cases Akhilesh was a target mostly because of the infighting in his family. The Congress did not receive much coverage, but neither newspaper questioned the party’s policy commitments or stand on different issues. Also, the newspapers did not question the involvement of a constitutional authority (Congress MP P.L. Punia, Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes) in the Congress campaign. The RSS received a significant coverage in Ujala’s investigative reports. Ujala also published seven inspirational stories about BJP leaders. On the other hand, Jagran gave special coverage to the BJP in its cartoons.

While different parties received different levels of coverage and the BJP received more coverage compared to other parties while Akhilesh received more coverage than other leaders, no party can complain that it was aggressively questioned or unfairly covered. Our newspapers seem to have forgotten their responsibility to question political parties, whether or not in power, on behalf of citizens.


Ankita Pandey is an independent researcher based in Bengaluru.


How Jagran and Ujala covered UP: Part I


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