Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
AP Chief Minister wants to be known more as marketing manager rather than as a chief minister. His speech at the inaugural of the Optical Fibre Grid system in AP in the presence of President Kovind further reinforces this.
There is nothing wrong in claiming that this Optical Fibre Grid would help in better monitoring of projects, law and order and administration. But, Chandrababu had already claimed that he had a command control system and a dashboard that enables real-time governance. He claims to do the same thing with the Optical Fibre Grid.
So far so good! But Nara Lokesh Babu's claims that this is the best in the country and Chandrababu going a step ahead and claiming that this is a role model for the whole world in preposterous. It sounds as if there is no Internet, no sky TV and no multi-channel broadcast system in AP. They are already available in the private sector and for the past so many years.
It is also not difficult to understand why they claimed that this multi-use OFG connection would be provided for just Rs 140 and why they concealed about the set-top box for which one has to shell out Rs 4000.
These are very much accessible. We already have video conferencing through smartphones and live video chatting through various apps. Yet, Chandrababu chose to make it look like a game-changer initiative.
But, many in the state know the real intention behind the OFG. This, according to many, is an attempt to muzzle and block the channels that highlight TDP government's corrupt deeds. This he can do by controlling the OFG. Already, several TDP leaders are into cable TV business and this measure will give them a licence to block rival channels. I would not be surprised if the government brings pressure on the people to get OFG connections using the police and the revenue department.
One only has to remember how Chandrababu blocked some channels to prevent the coverage of Kapu stir and Cash for Vote scam. One wonders if the OFG is an extention of the same strategy.
One can believe Chandrababu's word only when the cable operators are not coerced to become part of the OFG. But, Chandrababu is know to say something and do the exact opposite of it. So, there are genuine fears about the misuse of the OFG. One would welcome the OFG if it is used for education and health promotion. But, if the OFG becomes a political tool to muzzle alternative voices he has to pay a heavy price. If it becomes a propaganda tool, it is sure to boomerang.