Hyderabad: When it came to taking the voice of Telangana state across the nation and the world through cyber platforms this year, led by the opinion-shaping Twitter, TRS working president and state minister K.T. Rama Rao is the hands-down winner. The minister for MA&UD, IT, industries and commerce, with the handle @KTRTRS, has over 1.9 million followers, but follows only 102 as of Monday night.
Staying politically correct and seldom caught on the wrong foot, Mr Rana Rao, who is seen as being courteous with leaders of all political parties, prompt in responding to citizen’s grievances and acting with benignity, gets his followers into a rhapsodic tizzy with an occasional snarky retort to Opposition barbs, especially during elections and during controversial debates of national importance or sharing a moment of kvell, sharing pictures with his daughter or son.
Comfortable as a deipnosophist interacting with celebs from all walks of life, including movie stars, sports icons and business leaders, Mr Rama Rao on December 1 in a tweet asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi why the rapists in the Nirbhaya case were still alive and sought that the IPC be amended. “@narendramodi Ji, 7 years after Nirbhaya’s ghastly rape & murder; the convicts are still not hung! A 9-month child is raped recently, lower court ordered capital punishment; HC revised it to life imprisonment!”
Sadly, Mr Rama Rao, who follows Tollywood stars, sport icons of Hyderabad, influential national journalists including Barkha Dutt and Srinivasan Jain, does not think any scribe from Telangana state merits his attention.
A second voice who has made an impact on people nationally from Hyderabad, with his intrepid voice of consistent opposition to the BJP, RSS and constantly on the heels of Mr Modi and home minister Amit Shah is MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi. The @asadowaisi handle of the president of AIMIM has over 801.9K followers, but is more liberal than Mr Rao in following 1,045 accounts.
His most famous, tersest and winning retort was when he tweeted his opinion on the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case on November 9, with a title of a book, ironically an anthology in honour of the SC, as his response – ‘Supreme, not infallible’. Mr Owaisi courts controversy with sangfroid, relishes taking on trolls, and is a newsmaker with few peers on twitter in Indian politics.
Sadly, his Twitter ID is seldom used in his capacity as an MP to solve problems of his constituents.
Contrastingly different from the top two, as chalk and cheese, a man with crazy controversy-courting fingers in the 140 (now 280) character game is cricketer Ambati Rayudu. His @RayuduAmbati handle has 385.6K followers, Rayudu scripted folklore in response to the announcement that he was dropped from the World Cup squad, and all-rounder Vijay Shankar was preferred over him.
In response to the selectors’ justification that Shankar was more “three-dimensional” as a cricketer, Rayudu tweeted that he had ordered 3D glasses to watch the tournament.
‘Just Ordered a new set of 3d glasses to watch the world cup (sic)’, he said, dumbfounding M.S.K. Prasad, the chairman of selectors. His recent take on Hyderabad cricket and its newly elected chief Mohd Azharuddin stirred no less a controversy, making him a powerful voice from the city.
Sadly, most will remember his tweets more than his shots in times to come.
No less fearless or bold in influencing opinion is Upasana Konidela (nee Kamineni), whose @upasanakonidela handle, with over 1.1 million followers, is often at the forefront of advocacy of contrarian viewpoints, is disputatious and yet inspiring.
When Mr Modi met Bollywood film stars on October 19 as part of an initiative hashtagged #ChangeWithin initiative she wrote to him to protest against the cold-shouldering of the southern film industry, in particular Tollywood, and tagged a snap of Mr Modi with two of Khan trinity, saying, ‘with all due respect, we felt that representation of cultural icons was limited only to Hindi artists and southern film industry was neglected’....