Warring dailies exploit family politics

IN Regional Media | 26/11/2008
The war between Telugu dailes Eenadu and Sakshi acquired political overtones with elections round the corner. Sakshi, interviewed Ramoji’s estranged son.
G NAGAMALLIKA says it is another attack on Ramoji Rao by Congress CM Rajashekhara Reddy. Pix: Ramoji Rao

The on-going war between the top two Telugu news dailies Eenadu and Sakshi seems to have hit a new low, with a full page interview last week with Suman, the estranged son of media mogul Ramoji Rao appearing in Saakshi. In the race for higher circulation figures and one-upmanship, the most sensational news in recent times has been this interview. Saakshi, headed by Y S Jagan, son of Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, is the mouth piece of Congress party, while Eenadu, a traditional Telugu Desam supporter, is a staunch anti -Congress daily.


ETV, the television wing of the Eenadu business group, was under the stewardship of Suman, the younger son of Ramoji Rao. ETV had seen a dip in popularity with the serials produced, written and directed by Suman, including story, script, and songs etc., reaching megalomaniac proportions in the past couple of years, with other Telugu entertainment channels like Gemini and MAA giving stiff competition. A serious rift occurred between the father and son, leading to the son being asked politely to quit ETV before completely ruining it. A beleaguered Suman, who was also detected with cancer left for the US for treatment a few months ago, leaving the mantle to Ramoji again. The astute businessman and visionary, who took Eenadu to dizzying heights, took it upon himself to undo the losses suffered steadily under Suman.


Returning home, Suman was approached by Saakshi for an interview which was granted immediately as he knew that ‘this was the only paper which would write the truth and not distort it’. He along with his ‘close friend’ Prabhakar, also a former employee of ETV and the right hand man of Suman, bared their souls and provided the much needed fodder for Saakshi. Prabhakar, incidentally was thought to be the cause of the rift between father and son, by instigating the son against the father. This couldn’t have come at a worst time for Ramoji, who is already in the dock for his ‘illegal’ activities in his chit-fund company, Margadarsi as well as an illegal land occupation case coming up in Visakhapatnam.


With the elections round the corner, and with new entrants threatening old war horses, this is seen as political rivalry by many, more than plain media rivalry. The political milieu in AP is ‘hotting’ up with Chiranjeevi and his Praja Rajyam Party, getting ready to play spoiler for both the Congress and the Telugu Desam.


The Telugu media which has the highest number of channels in regional media and a large number of dailies, have a lot at stake with most of the channels either owned or supporting one or the other political party. For Ramoji Rao, the king maker during NTR’s time, nothing could go wrong during the rule of Telugu Desam for nine long years. The return of Congress to power was the beginning of his troubles. The hitherto uncrowned king is being dragged to courts and caught in cases where he is fighting long drawn battles.


A criminal case was filed against him and his elder son Kiran for fraud and foul play in a land lease case in Visakhapatnam, February last, where they were accused of occupying land given on lease, illegally. He was also accused by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh for misappropriation of funds and cheating public by collecting Rs 2,610 crore through his chit fund company Margadarsi.


What ever be the accusations, no one can doubt his innate ability or his excellent entrepreneurial skills in turning round everything he touched into gold. His Midas touch made every project of his, be it Priya pickles or Margadarsi chit funds of Ushodaya Publications, a successful business. But unfortunately, it looks like his son did not inherit his famous father’s business acumen. He, as he claims is more of an ‘artiste’ than a businessman.


However, the rift which came out into the open with his son is another blow for the septuagenarian, hounded as he is, by the police and the courts in recent times. The political vendetta is clear, coming right before elections. But with skeletons in his  cupboard finally tumbling out, his troubles seem far from over.




See the interview on YouTube:





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