Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was in Delhi to attend the river water sharing meet during the rain deluge in Hyderabad, came back to address a press meet on the same. KCR started off by welcoming the bountiful rains which created havoc in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. He said it was a good sign that all the reservoirs were full though some temporary trouble had to be borne by citizens. He then went on to appreciate the "good work" done by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, the Traffic police as well the Municipal Administration Ministry which is headed by his son K T Rama Rao.
KCR expressed his annoyance with the media for creating panic when there was no cause to. He was in all likelihood referring to non-stop coverage by TV channels of areas which were flooded and citizens who were stranded. After having bestowed these tips, KCR then proceeded to further enlighten mediapersons about El Nino and La Nina. "After two years, our tanks and rivulets are full and groundwater levels have gone up," gushed KCR. Till recently, there were drought-like conditions due to the El Nino climatic conditions. Now these rains and flood-like conditions are due to the La Nina effect," he lectured journalists.
After much backlash about illegal structures which have encroached into water bodies thereby leading to flooding, the TRS government has begun a massive demolition drive. So far, nearly 650 unauthorised and decaying buildings built along nallahs, storm water drains, lakes have been demolished. The GHMC is also out to demolish those buildings which have unauthorised extra floors and unsafe cellars.
Minister K T Rama Rao who called on Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu presented him with a fat bill of Rs 1,189 crore, primarily to repair roads. Such is the state of affairs in the city that many Hyderabadis have reverted to travelling by RTC buses instead of bikes and cars as the commute on pothole-ridden roads is causing severe body aches. Many citizens are even complaining of asthma attacks because of dust on damaged roads.
However, the TRS continues to be defensive. Nizamabad MP and KCR's daughter K Kavitha said a certain section of the media was biased and trying to "defame Hyderabad" by constantly talking of damaged roads. Stating that out of 24 circles under the GHMC limits, only five were affected by the recent rains, she said some channels went hyper and tried to project as if the entire city had sunk.
Meanwhile, the Hyderabad High Court while appreciating the intent of the State government in its drive, has stayed the demolition of 25 buildings in Hyderabad and Nalgonda. Some people staying in these buildings approached the court saying that though they has the requisite permissions, notices had been served on them to vacate the premises in 24 hours. Justice M S Ramachandra Rao asked the GHMC to explain why the encroachments had not been removed in the initial stages. The court adjourned the matter by eight weeks asking the authorities to explain the issues raised in the writ petitions.
Special Status loses zing
As news of surgical strikes dominate the media, politicians of all hues are standing by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's action, be it the Congress, TDP, TRS or YSR Congress. Under these circumstances of escalated tension along the border with Pakistan, parties such as YSR Congress and Jana Sena are finding it difficult to maintain the demand of special status for Andhra Pradesh. "The public mood is now completely different. The strikes in PoK are being seen as a befitting reply to the Uri attack," says a Congress leader from Rayalaseema.
However, the one who is a further fix is Jana Sena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan, who had planned a series of meetings on the Special Status issue after the infamous Arun Jaitley press meet where ambiguous sops for AP were announced which Venkaiah Naidu later said added up to more than Rs 2 lakh crore. What might have been a great platform for Pawan Kalyan has suddenly become unimportant. So on the advice of his aides, Pawan Kalyan has reportedly decided to postpone his October rally at least for now.
One politician who has, however, decided to use the surgical strikes news to his advantage in Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee chief Uttam Kumar Reddy. A former Air Force Pilot, while praising the Indian Army for its strikes, he said he was willing to join the fight if necessary since he knows how to fly fighter planes.
Director Ram Gopal Varma loves a controversy and he loves it even more when he is the centre of it. As rumours about Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha dominated social media, RGV put up a photo of his with Jayalalitha, saying, "Me with the Amma of the Amma of Ammas". While Twitterati tried to figure out the reason behind the sudden tweet and what it meant, he has also been trying to whip up publicity for his film on slain gangster Nayeem which he plans to release in January. RGV says he has been meeting with Nayeem's associates and has also received threats over the phone. "But they need to understand that Nayeemon ka Nayeem," he said on his Twitter handle. The Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce is reportedly not too happy with the title Nayeem and RGV might instead use Ram Gopal Varma Nayeem as the film's title.
Dhoni aur biryani
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is travelling across the country to promote his biopic, M S Dhoni: The Untold Story. He was in Hyderabad recently to attend the film's audio launch. Baahubali director S S Rajamouli who spoke at the event said that he was such a huge fan of the Indian cricket capitain that he wouldn't mind paying a crore to share the stage with the latter. Dhoni blushed and went on to say what he loved about Hyderabad. Dhoni said he loved its warmth, biryani, bakery biscuits, pearls and the fact that the team had mostly performed well in Hyderabad.
While on the biryani topic, it may be recalled that Dhoni had once stormed out of the ITC Kakatiya Hotel in September, 2014 over the hotel's refusal to allow home-cooked biryani. At the time, it was reported that CSK team-mate Ambati Rayadu was bringing in some home-cooked biryani for his team-mates when the hotel denied permission. An angry Dhoni then stormed out and moved into Taj Krishna. While versions of the incident still differ, it is clear that Dhoni's love for Hyderabadi biryani is indeed quite strong.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine