Is Namaste Telangana independent?

Lakshmi Rajam of Namaste Telangana

Namaste Telangana was launched by KCR six months back as part of his ambitious plans to dominate Telangana in all spheres of life. T News Channel was already owned by KCR, but the impact that a newspaper could make and the prestige associated with print media were the reasons for the TRS chief to take up the rather tough venture.

Initially, KCR had to face problems in mobilizing money for the capital-intensive industry. He sought the help of Telangana NRIs and several of them were said to have come forward to contribute to the venture. But when Lakshmi Rajam of Sew Infrastructure came forward to provide a lion’s share of the funding, KCR went ahead.

 Namaste Telangana was launched with a lot of fanfare in July last. Expectations were high as the paper was riding on the popularity of TRS as well as the flourishing Telangana nationalism. The promoters were so confident that they declared Namaste Telangana would kick off with a record breaking 7 lakh circulation on launch.

However, the situation has changed considerably since then. The circulation figures dropped alarmingly. The costs of running the paper are so high that KCR could not cope up with the financial pressure. It was then – barely three months after the launch – that KCR had decided to hand over the management of the paper.

Lakshmi Rajam, an engineer who hails from Karimnagar – became the chairman and managing director and since then running the paper which – like all other upcoming papers – has been incurring losses. As is public knowledge by now, Rajam was a partner in the Sew Infrastructure which bagged the Polavaram contract for Rs 4,300 cr.

When Rajam took over, it was assumed that the paper might change its aggressive and one-sided editorial policy and adopt a more ‘balanced’ approach even while being pro-Telangana. However, it happened in some degree but not in kind. The reason is simple. The paper still owes its allegiance to KCR and TRS. It cannot appropriate the ‘Telangana heart-beat’ tag without the active support of the party and its cadres.

And remember, KCR still continues as a partner though he might not be involved in day-to-day affairs.

No wonder, the paper continues to be as shrill, as biased and as opinionated as the other dailies that it so routinely dubs as ‘Seemandhra’ papers. But it ca be safely surmised that over a period of time, Namaste Telangana will transform itself into another mainstream paper, given that Rajam cannot afford to make enemies in the government given his status as a businessman.

For the time being, however, Namaste Telangana, presently struggling at less than one third of its expected circulation at the launch, cannot ‘independent’ in the traditional sense.