Media spotlight on Obama’s remark on religious freedom in India


Media in India highlight US President Barack Obama’s latest statement on religious freedom in India.

Speaking at the White House National Prayer Breakfast, with the Dalai Lama in the audience, Mr Obama talked about India’s culture and its religious diversity and differences.

“Michelle and I returned from India – an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity – but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other people of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs – acts of intolerance that would have shocked [Mahatma] Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation,” The Indian Express quotes him as saying.

This was not the first time Mr Obama talked about the issue of religious freedom in India.

During his recent visit to Delhi, he said that “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines”.

But papers also highlight that the president did not single out India and talked about religious issues that are affecting the world.

The Hindustan Times says the president was clear this [threat to religious freedom] was not unique to “one group, nation or religion”.

Delhi gears up for polls

In some domestic news, Delhi gets ready to vote on Saturday after a gruelling election campaign by political parties that sometimes turned “ugly”.

Delhi has been without a state government since Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal resigned from the chief minister’s post last February when his anti-corruption bill was blocked.

Mr Kejriwal says he will not resign this time because he is confident of forming a government without the support of any other party.

He ran a minority government with the Congress party’s support for 49 days before quitting.

Papers say Mr Kejriwal’s AAP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP were in a “slugfest” throughout the election campaign.

“The campaign, marked by acrimonious exchanges between the main players at meetings, rallies and padyatras [marches] which led to a lot of bitterness, ended at 6pm (local time) on Thursday,” The Times of Indiasays.

Calling the campaign “short, but heated and occasionally unsavoury”, The Hindu says that Mr Kejriwal appears “to have mounted a strong challenge to the BJP, which seemed to be on a winning streak in the beginning”.

The Hindustan Times describes the campaign as “barb-filled” and lists the activities of the three main contenders for the post of chief minister on the last day of the campaigning.

“Kiran Bedi of the BJP chose to visit nearly every lane in her constituency and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal took forward his connect with the underclass by visiting slum clusters but Congress’s Ajay Maken stayed put at home – strategising for Saturday’s vote,” the paper says.