Thursday turned out to be quite difficult for editors in charge of newspapers. As of mid day, it was evident that the prime minister's speech in the Lok Sabha was one of those typical Narendra Modi affairs, full of clever jibes and campaign material. If nothing else noteworthy had happened, there would have been no question about what ended up as lead story on the front pages. But something else did happen: Kanhaiya Kumar.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union president had emerged earlier in the day from jail after having been arrested on charges of sedition. Kumar turned up at JNU's administration block by evening and, amid hundreds of students, gave a remarkable speech that was broadcast live.
For a student leader who had been arrested, vilified, attacked and eventually granted bail after undertaking to channel his energies constructively, Kumar's speech was a revelation. Most were certain that, by arresting him, the Modi government had created a new leader. And the front pages reflected that.
As can be expected papers like the Telegraph and the Indian Express gave much of their front pages to Kumar, with even the Times of India putting Modi and the JNUSU president's speech on practically the same footing. A few newspapers – like a few television channels that chose not to broadcast Kumar's speech the previous night – did choose not to put Kumar on the front page.