Taking on Eenadu in AP

Billed as the first all colour internationally designed Telugu newspaper in 23 editions, Rajshekhar Reddy’s family launched Sakshi in Andhra Pradesh
Hoot desk with IANS


The backing of a newspaper  helped establish the Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh. Ramoji Rao’s boost to NT Rama Rao’s new party back in the early 1980s is part of India’s political history. Eenadu is now the biggest  Telugu paper in the state, and continues to have a strong relationship with the Telugu Desam.


 The Congress has always had the support of the Deccan Chronicle, with a Rajya Sabha MP from Andhra Pradesh Subirami Reddy, belonging to the family which owns the paper.  Reddy just got a second term.


But  now the party is set to get additional media support in the state.  A new Telugu daily Sakshi has been launched in Andhra Pradesh by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy¿s son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who stressed, for the record,  that it would not be a mouthpiece of the Congress party. Aimed at taking on newspapers reportedly supporting political rivals of the ruling Congress  ( read Eenadu) , the new daily has been launched at a time when the state is gearing up for next year¿s elections.


Sakshi, which means witness, is being brought out in 23 multi-coloured editions by Jagati Publication, of which Jagan Mohan Reddy is the chairman. US-based Mario Garcia designed Sakshi - the first Telugu daily with all the pages in colour. The newspaper will be published from 19 centres within Andhra Pradesh. Plus, there will be four editions from New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.


With an aggressive marketing strategy, the newspaper is gearing up to give a tough fight to other dailies. The ruling party feels that majority of Telugu dailies were biased and claims that Sakshi will be objective and balanced.


Jagan Mohan Reddy, a businessman, reportedly invested Rs.1.2 billion to launch the paper which will be  the ninth Telugu daily in the state. It will take on established papers like Eenadu, Andhra Jyothi and Vaartha.


Governor N.D. Tiwari launched the new daily at a glittering function Sunday night in the presence of the chief minister and leaders of various political parties, barring the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).


YSR, as the chief minister is popularly known, hoped the newspaper would tell the truth without distortion and set new trends in journalism. His son tried to dispel the impression that it would be a mouthpiece of the Congress.


AICC general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh M. Veerappa Moily, state Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) secretary B.V. Raghavulu, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader K. Narayana, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Bandaru Dattatreya and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi were among the political leaders who attended the function.


B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam Group, launched the daily¿s web edition. Telugu superstars Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna and sportspersons Pullela Gopichand and Mithali Raj were also present.


Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu declined to attend the inauguration despite an invitation from the chief minister. The main opposition party has alleged that the Rs.6. billion invested in the newspaper included diversions from public funds and bribes given by irrigation projects¿ contractors to the chief minister.


TDP leaders also said that sole purpose of Sakshi was to malign opposition parties. However, Congress leaders felt that there was a need for a newspaper with an impartial policy.


They alleged that the major Telugu dailies were siding with the TDP and carrying reports with "baseless" allegations of corruption in Jalayagnam - the massive irrigation programme - and other development schemes.


The chief minister, on many occasions, targeted some Telugu dailies for carrying such reports. He read out a few such reports in the legislative assembly to show how "biased" these newspapers were.


The ruling party felt that the best way to counter this "onslaught" was to launch its own newspaper. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is an entrepreneur with interests in mining, power generation, construction and cement, also plans to launch a television news channel in Telugu. And like many schemes of the state government, it will be named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi.


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