Deccan Chronicle

Neta Natter | Balagam craze hits Telangana politics

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: April 15, 2023 | Updated on: April 15, 2023

The latest buzzword going around is politicians of all hues and shades declaring that people are their balagam

While some are organising a screening of the movie in villages, others have launched campaigns on social media declaring Karyakarthale Na Balam... Prajale Na Balagam'.

While some are organising a screening of the movie in villages, others have launched campaigns on social media declaring Karyakarthale Na Balam... Prajale Na Balagam'.

Politicians, if nothing else, are smart people. Like a good doctor who can read the pulse of a patient, politicos are constantly on the lookout for signals that can help them reach out to people. The latest buzzword going around is politicians of all hues and shades declaring that people are their balagam thanks to the runaway success of Balagam, the movie. While some are organising a screening of the movie in villages, others have launched campaigns on social media declaring ‘Karyakarthale Na Balam... Prajale Na Balagam’ trying to cash in on the movie’s message on the need for unity, love, and affection among the near and dear. Latching on to Balagam striking a strong emotional chord with people, some leaders, including Adilabad ZP chairman Rathod Janardhan, Mancherial DCC president Kokkirala Surekha and former MLC Premsagar Rao, have launched campaigns using the movie title. With slogans like Eavaru Avunanna... Kadanna Mancherial Ma Balam... Mancherial Prajale Ma Balagam. Not to be outdone, social activists too have taken to this trend declaring Rajyangam Na Balam... Baratiyule Na Balagam on the occasion of B.R. Ambedkar’s Jayanti.

KCR’s statue masterstroke

In politics, there is a perpetual ongoing game of statues. Go to any village, or a town square and you will see statues galore. Being the Grand Old Party, the Congress scores over others with a great diversity of statues to claim as its own — Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. In Telangana state, the Congress claims the various statues of Dr Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy as their own, though in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the monopoly over such a claim belongs to the ruling YSRC. The Telugu Desam only has statues of the late N.T. Rama Rao, whereas the BJP has recently sponsored and supported several statues of Shivaji Maharaj in parts of Telangana state. The BJP’s biggest statue claim and pride, however, is the iconic Statue of Unity of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a leader who spent his life in the Congress. While across Andhra Pradesh the statues of YSR and NTR adorn public parks and central locations of the state, there was no statue to claim for the ruling BRS. With a single masterstroke of installing a leviathan-sized statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar in Hyderabad, BRS supremo K. Chandrashekar Rao has singularly laid claim to the icon in Telangana state and the party can now use Ambedkar statues across the state as their own.

Bunk classes to watch this movie, students advised

If anything, Minister Ch. Malla Reddy is a man who is irrepressible, in a good sort of way, for the most part. A man of many moods, Malla Reddy is known for having an audience in splits with his earthy and pithy comments. But sometimes, he gets carried away by his enthusiasm, as was the case just the other day when actor Naga Chaitanya was at a college owned by Malla Reddy to promote his upcoming film. Malla Reddy, who owns a chain of engineering, medical colleges etc., often gives "lectures" to his students to focus on their studies, narrates stories on how he sold milk, flowers etc., worked hard and makes a point of how hard work brings its rewards, and how students, should not get distracted from studies pursuing enjoyment, entertainment, films, love, girlfriends, boyfriends etc. At the movie event attended by a large number of students, Malla Reddy gave his usual spiel, but ended his speech by asking students to watch Naga Chaitanya’s film even if it means "bunking" classes. Further, he said he was willing to declare a holiday for his colleges on the film’s release date to facilitate students to watch the film, and if need be, even postpone exams if any happened to be scheduled on the day, leaving many wondering what the message was — study or bunk classes to watch movies?

Sajjanar can’t escape haunting memory of past encounter

Events of the past, sometimes never let go. Just ask TSRTC managing director V.C. Sajjanar, who has been bending backwards in making the RTC roll smoothly. But then, like a bad dream, the Disha encounter incident keeps popping up, pulling down every effort of his as the RTC’s top honcho tries to move past the episode. Despite his best efforts to be in the news for various initiatives and steps he is taking to make RTC a viable entity, a quick online search of his name brings up the Disha encounter case, playing spoilsport and reminding everyone that it was under his stewardship of the Cyberabad police that the incident took place. The recent hearing in the Telangana High Court on the case yet again brought this aspect to the fore. It appears that no matter how hard the senior police official tries to revamp the TSRTC, the Disha encounter case refuses to distance itself from him. Even if there is an encounter in Uttar Pradesh, news reports in Telangana evoke the Disha memory.

Leave our walls, please

‘Stick-it-to-em!’ Politicians cutting across the spectrum love to do this to their opponents. But in Andhra Pradesh, this has taken a new meaning with the two parties — YSRC and Jana Sena — launching a sticker war, with their leaders and workers going around every home and pasting stickers praising their bosses. Not to be left behind, the TD too joined this little sideshow, with each party declaring that the houses on which these stickers are pasted are their loyalists. For the YSRC, it is a sticker with the image of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, for the Jana Sena it is one with Pawan Kalyan, and for the TD, it is the image of N. Chandrababu Naidu, along with differing slogans. While this is fine with parties, home and shop owners on whose walls these stickers are appearing say they are "victims" of this political battle. The overwhelming opinion is their homes are being defaced by all three political parties.

Naidu’s selfie goes wrong

A picture is worth a thousand words. Political selfies can be worth even more, but they can go either way. It all started with the TD’s "selfie challenge" asking people to take pictures of TD’s success stories and post them online. A recent image posted by TD supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, party cadres say, has boomeranged. The image was of Naidu in a selfie with a row of houses built for the poor, purportedly by the TD government. The problem was YRSC quickly rebutted the false claim, showing the housing project was completed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government. To boot, YSRC folks pointed out the houses were painted in YSRC party colours, leaving TD leaders red-faced.

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