India Insight

India’s Telangana fight explores new frontiers in political attack ads

(Note to readers: contains slightly graphic language and an aggressively provocative image.)

Dear American political consultants: you might think you know how to produce negative political attack ads, but you have much to learn. Caravan magazine’s senior editor Jonathan Shainin on Sunday shared on Twitter what he called “Unquestionably the greatest political poster of all time.” I admit that I have made no broad study, but this ad, coming from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, seems to me to break some kind of sound barrier in the business. (Correction: I cannot confirm that this ad appeared in Hyderabad. A readers whose comment appears below tells  me that the ad appears in Tanuku in West Godavari District)

The Telugu-language ad features a local politician scolding Lok Sabha parliamentarian K Chandrasekhar Rao, a proponent of splitting Andhra Pradesh into two states. Reuters explains why creating a new state, Telangana, is controversial:

The ruling Congress party approved on Tuesday the creation of a new Telangana state, a move that has revived deep political divisions and raised fears of violence in the area, home to global firms including Google.

The decision to break up Andhra Pradesh and establish Telangana comes ahead of elections next year and critics say the ruling party is seeking to shore up its political fortunes after dragging its feet over the explosive issue for four decades.

Sonia Gandhi faces rare criticism of her leadership

Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi smiles as she addresses the media at her residence in New Delhi May 16, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

In her nearly 13 years as the all-powerful chief of the Congress party which heads India’s ruling coalition, Sonia Gandhi has, of late, rarely faced criticism of her leadership.

If anything, she has appeared to tighten her grip on the party since her early days as its leader when her authority was challenged by a trio of senior Congress leaders, who were subsequently expelled.

So when G. Venkataswamy, veteran Congress leader from southern Andhra Pradesh state, questioned Sonia’s ability to lead on Tuesday, going so far as to even suggest that she step down, it received wide publicity in the Indian press.

Will the Congress bite the bullet on Telangana?

File photo of activists of Telangana Joint Action Committee shouting slogans as they form a human chain during a protest in front of the Charminar in Hyderabad February 3, 2010. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/Files

Almost a year after violent protests over demands for a Telangana state carved out of Andhra Pradesh, the Indian government has to grapple with the issue once again.

A report by a panel set up to examine the issue and suggest options to deal with the decades-old demand was made public on Thursday.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, while releasing the B. N. Srikrishna report, urged an impartial consideration of its contents.

Telangana today, Gorkhaland tomorrow?

Protests in Hyderabad

The United Progressive Alliance at the centre has set in motion the process of carving out a separate Telangana state from Andhra Pradesh, a move that is likely to give impetus to other statehood demands.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram’s statement on Wednesday about initiating the process of forming the new state was prompted by Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s resolve to fast unto death and violent protests in state capital Hyderabad, home to 1000 IT companies.

As jubilant TRS supporters danced on the streets of Hyderabad and shouted slogans, the Congress-led ruling alliance’s capitulation raises several questions about the likely impact of such a momentous decision.

Superstar Chiranjeevi turns politician. Finally.

The Telugu actor launched his Praja Rajyam (People’s Rule) party this week, the latest in a long line of bigwigs from the acting fraternity in south India to nurse political ambitions.

Actor ChiranjeeviChiranjeevi, 53, is in good company. M.G. Ramachandran, N.T. Rama Rao, J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi had all successfully made the leap from silver screen to political stage.

And with assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh looming in 2009, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Chiranjeevi seated on the chief minister’s chair.

He’s surely got mass appeal. Local television broadcast footage of tens of thousands of supporters hailing the actor at his party’s launch in the temple town of Tirupati.

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