Hyderabad: With less than a year for Assembly elections, Andhra Pradesh is witness to an ambitious Rs 600-crore Congress media campaign – a newspaper called the Sakshi.
The venture, a brainchild of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy and his son Jaganmohan Reddy, also includes plans for a television channel.
But that's not the only ace up Reddy's sleeve. One newspaper amongst over 20 and one TV channel amongst dozens will not create much of a dent when it comes to creating opinion.
So the Congress is quietly buying out the state media by giving away 70 acres of prime IT land in Gachibowli to over 1,000 journalists in the state.
In fact, more than 2,000 journalists have applied for the land. The selected journalists will get 200 square yards of land for between Rs 1 and 1.5 lakh. While the market value of the same is Rs 17 lakh.
“Journalists have no freedom to write anything. Content is decided by managements. So even if the state government gives land, it doesn't mean that journalists will write pro-state government,” Chairman, Press Academy of Andhra Pradesh, Devulapalli Amar said.
Not surprisingly, the state government is seeking no publicity for the scheme, which many describe as an attempt to bribe journalists.
“There are many poor journalists who have been working for many years and do not have the means to buy a plot of land. So we are helping these senior journalists with land and medical help when required. There is nothing wrong with it,” AP Energy Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir said.
Meanwhile, MLA of Telugu Desham Party, Devendra Goud said, “The Chief Minister can give away his own land to whomever he wants. How can he give away state-owned land to journalists? He doesn't give an inch of land to the poor to build a hut but he gives land to MLAs, MPs, judges and journalists,”
Media consolidation, it seems, has taken on an entirely new hue in Andhra Pradesh.