Political enthusiasts were in awe when a Telugu daily in Andhra Pradesh recently published an almost half-page lead story about a meeting between state Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi — complete with dialogue.
The story in the newspaper, often the target of bitter criticism by the chief minister, said that on the sidelines of the recent meeting with party chiefs to discuss India’s G 20 presidency, prime minister Narendra Modi caught Jagan off-guard by inquiring about his sister YS Sharmila’s arrest by Telangana police and alleged ill-treatment by the state government.
According to the report, Modi’s inquiry had left Jagan red-faced.
Conventional wisdom in the state is that Jagan and Sharmila have parted ways and are not even on talking terms. Of course, no one but Jagan himself or those close to him know whether he spoke to his sister after her car was towed away by Telangana police.
A little digging, however, soon revealed the source of this dramatic story. It was small, juicy item carried in a gossip column of a leading English national daily.
And that left everyone wondering how a gossip snippet became a lead story in the Telugu daily.
“Only if a person of the prime minister’s stature has so much affinity with a state chief minister that such a personal question can be asked,” observed a YSRCP leader.
“The truth is no one knows whether Modi really asked such a question and left Jagan red-faced. All we saw was the two speaking to each other. Wonder how the reporter heard what Modi said to Jagan.” Indeed.