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Jana talk!

IF CULLING out information is the task, any journalist would have to grudgingly accept that it's almost an insurmountable problem, if one were dealing with our Home Minister K. Jana Reddy.

The other day, Mr. Reddy interacted with scribes for well over two hours on the issue of talks with naxalites and the registration of a criminal case against naxalite emissaries by the Warangal police. As the marathon press conference continued, scribes had to literally scratch their heads as to what the Home Minister was trying to convey.

The biggest scare for scribes was when Jana Reddy requested the visual media representatives to remove all the mikes and turn off the video cameras. "Okay! Now we shall talk off the record for two hours," he announced even as news hungry journos smelt that the Minister could share some information which could be used in a news story. But even after another hour of the so-called off-the-record interaction, there was nothing to report (NTR as seasoned scribes would say).

* * *

THE `HARITHA Yatra' is supposed to be a HUDA programme to spread awareness about benefits of tree plantation and protection of tanks and ponds in over 60 villages. But the padayatra led by the HUDA Chairman, D. Sudheer Reddy, took off hours behind the scheduled time. The gathering was dominated by party workers and their eagerness to be in close proximity to political leaders. Media persons, who reached the venue near the Autonagar dumping yard at the scheduled hour, had to kill time all the while warding off the swarming flies. The plight of HUDA officials and employees was even worse. They reached the venue by 8 a.m. as the yatra was fixed for 9.30 a.m. It finally took off at half-past-noon after the usual round of speeches. At this rate, would six days be enough to cover 220 km as planned?

* * *

STRANGE CAN be the ways of the State's Information and Public Relations Department. If it were just the inane mistakes that crop up with grating regularity in the invitations sent out by the I&PR officials, one could suspect the hands of the printing devil to an extent. For instance, a recent invite, for a `press conference' by a Minister, read: "...the Hon'ble Minister for School Eduction (sic) will holding the Press (again, sic) on August..."

But the slip-up did not end with the invite. The so-called press conference by the Minister was more of, or rather completely, a session for an NGO to show all the goodies it had been doling out to the State's impoverished government schools. The Minister, after having to sit through the presentations for almost an hour, did not have much to say, expect congratulate the organisation and its benefactors and "hope" that such "fruitful partnerships continue". Scribes who came expecting some news from the Minister had to return with the endless pages of material handed out by the NGO. The I&PR officials? They were nowhere to be seen.

* * *

WHEN THE Municipal Administration Minister, Koneru Ranga Rao, decided to inspect the Hussainsagar canals, there was all round expectation that something good would come out of it. Alas, it was not to be as Mr. Ranga Rao's utterances and actions stunned MCH officials, locals and of course, the accompanying media contingent.

When the large-scale encroachments on the `nalas' were brought to his notice, the Minister told officials clearly that it was futile to remove them. "What we can do against such constructions? If we demolish, I will face lot of pressure from the public and being their representative I will have to support them. The aggrieved parties would also approach the courts. Please think of some other way of allowing free flow of water," he said.

He also glossed over specific instances of encroachments brought to his notice. As if it was not enough, the Minister abruptly cut short his visit after a single stop promising to have a glimpse of the slums soon. "Today is Sunday, let our officers go home early," he said even as the BJP leaders protested mildly stating that they had mobilised slum dwellers in their areas. The Mayor, T. Krishna Reddy, was nowhere in the entourage. Apparently, the first citizen was royally ignored. Humiliation for him the second time from the present Government.

* * *

LADIES AND gentlemen, the Indipop sensation Bombay Vikings has just started, he will be here any moment, so be ready to catch up with him, announced the staff of Music World at 6 p.m. on Saturday. BV was supposed to speak at a press conference and the time given to the media was 6 p.m.

At 6.15 p.m., a young lady once again announced, "Get ready, he is about to come!" Another 15 minutes, and she was on the mike again: "Hold your breath" and immediately, those waiting to catch a glimpse of the `Woh Chali Woh Chali...' star, fixed their gaze on the entrance of the shop. No BV. The announcer screamed again: "He will be here any moment!"

The marathon of announcements went on, until finally, BV arrived, a good 45 minutes late. But kudos to the announcer, for her skills to make sure that the media and the public sat glued to their seats!

* * *

EXTRAVAGANCE THY name is Congress. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say so if the indulgence of the Congress men is any indication. The Prakasham Hall in Gandhi Bhavan virtually turned into a flower market on Monday as party workers vied with each other to felicitate party MPs, V. Hanumantha Rao and G. Venkataswamy.

With congress men it is bigger the best. They brought huge garlands to felicitate their leaders and it was all chaos on the stage as everyone climbed up to garland.

The Chief Minister talks of austerity but somehow it doesn't seem to percolate down.

By K. Srinivas Reddy, M.L. Melly Maitreyi, Dennis Marcus Mathew, V. Geetanath, Vikram Sharma and J.S.Ifthekhar

Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

By K. Srinivas Reddy, M.L. Melly Maitreyi, Dennis Marcus Mathew, V. Geetanath, Vikram Sharma and J.S

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