Eenadu in trouble

IN Regional Media | 27/12/2006
The government order sanctioning prosecution said the story showed Reddy in poor light and tarnished the image of the state government.

Reprinted from the Indian Express, December 26, 2006

Tamil Nadu`s politics of television channels is now rubbing off on neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The YS Rajasekhara Reddy-led Congress government in the state is at loggerheads with the state`s largest media group Eenadu, accused of being the mouthpiece of the opposition Telugu Desam. The latest salvo: state sanction for legal action against Rao and Eenadu Daily for an article against Home Minister K. Jana Reddy on September 12.

Without naming the minister directly, the article alleged that his family had purchased 200 acres of benami land just outside Hyderabad.

The government order sanctioning prosecution said the story showed Reddy in poor light and tarnished the image of the state government. Reddy said he wanted to get the item inquired into for ascertaining the truth and appropriate action taken on the findings.

TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao have already spoken against the government`s action but the Home Minister denied allegations of muzzling the press. ?This is totally wrong. Whether it is the media or the government, people should know what is the truth,`` Reddy said. He also denied charges that Eenadu was being targeted due to its alleged TDP leaning. ?They change their stance depending on what is convenient,`` he said.

The government is now considering whether to file for defamation or approach the Press Council of India. No notice has been served to the paper as yet. The battle is being fought on another front as well.

Almost a month after Rajahmundhry MP Vundavalli Aun Kumar alleged that Eenadu-owned Margadarsi Financier was collecting funds from depositors against RBI rules, the Government has decided to act against the company. A panel headed by financial expert N Rangachari will investigate if Margadarsi violated laws in mobilising deposits from the public. The government has also directed the CID to file a case against the company and begin investigations. ?We respect the views of the press and have the greatest regard for the media but he (Ramoji Rao) is not only an editor of a newspaper but has various other business interests,? Finance Minister Konejeti Rosiah said. Besides the channel, Ramoji has interests in cinema and owns pickles companies and shopping malls. ?The company has gathered upto Rs 2,600 crore as an HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) which is not registered under any law.

The government just thought it necessary to protect the interest of the depositors,? he said.

Ramoji could not be contacted.

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