K. Chandrashekar Rao may well be the biggest YouTube star in Telangana although the chief minister has no channel of his own that we know of. Particularly since the coronavirus lockdown was announced in the state on March 22, he has been the most watched person on YouTube in Telangana.
KCR, as he is known when not within earshot, has addressed the media more than half a dozen times in the corona era. These pressers have been extended affairs, covering many other subjects as well, such how the media must behave, the role of doctors, the ways of patients, etc. It has fallen to Chandrashekar Rao to be the sole spokesman for his own government: he announces restrictions, removes them, shores up morale, admonishes officials, berates political opponents, etc.
Now whenever it is reported that KCR is to address a press conference at his office-cum-residence Pragathi Bhavan, Telugu netizens switch over to YouTube to watch the event live. Some 6.82 lakh people watched the press con live on March 29 and a whopping 15.94 lakh did so on April 5 . This is just YouTube mind you, we're not counting other millions on other social media. Hundreds of viewers gave their instant reaction to him on the live stream, and some of them even turned commentators and and broadcast their views during the live telecast.
The only problem is KCR's press conferences often get delayed as they follow Hyderabad Standard Time, which is always five and a half hours later than parsaun.
Vijayasai gets a jolt on the high horse
On the other hand, YSRC Parliamentary Party leader V. Vijayasai Reddy, who reached the no. 2 position in the party by using the power of social media, is not having the best of time on the said platforms. He was recently trolled for saying he knew of the frauds of BJP MP Y. ‘Sujana’ Chowdary as his auditor and threatening to expose him.
Now, social media is transfixed with what is being described as the 'middle drop' incident. Vijayasai had to get down from Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s car to make space for health minister Alla Nani as the chief minister was rushing to Vizag after the LG Polymer plant gas leak there. Vijayasai, who is the party in-charge for Vizag, wanted to travel with the CM but was offloaded as the boss changed plan and decided to take the health minister with him.
While it is normal practice to reduce the number of passengers on a helicopter due to the limited seating capacity, what is curious is that the video of him getting into the car and disembarking after a few minutes made its way into social media. There is a probe on to find out how the video clip made it to social media and how it went viral.
Social media was full of speculation that the video was “leaked” to send a message that Vijayasai was being cut to size. A few hours after the leak, the PR team posted the video to journalists’ groups to show that it was shared in a routine manner. But the damage had been done by then. Twitter, which made Vijayasai, popular showed it can pull you down too.
After gas leak, Neerab Babu under a cloud
There is another VIP from the Vijayasai Reddy club who is hitting a rough patch as well: Senior bureaucrat Neerab Kumar Prasad, special chief secretary in the forest and environment department. Just as he was pitching for the top post after the retirement of chief secretary Nilam Sawhney came the LG Polymers gas leak in Visakhapatnam.
As head of the environment department, Neerab Babu came under fire for the lapses of the Pollution Control Board in checking the plant. The PCB along with the Industries Ministry and the Director of Factories and Boilers should have adopted a safety plan for restarting operations after the lockdown. The top brass is apparently of the view that as the senior officer he should have taken the initiative on safety aspects and coordinated with other departments headed by his juniors and oversee a return to activity.
On top of it comes the issue of permitting LG Polymers to operate without an environmental clearance. There will be a lot of explaining to do.