In August last year, an old woman was taking shelter behind an iron box near popular restaurant Paradise in Secunderabad. All it took was a tweet to Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao and within hours, she was rescued by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and shifted to a Shelter home.
In a more recent incident, the family of a 10-month-old girl hailing from Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh reached out to KTR on Twitter after they were unable to afford her eye surgery. KTR had his office reach out to LV Prasad Eye institute and upon their intervention, the little girl got her eyesight back.
When it comes to reaching out to the government for grievances - personal and civic, contacting the concerned authorities has always been a task. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the state of Telangana.
With KTR -- who holds the IT, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Industries & Commerce, Mines & Geology, Public Enterprises and NRI Affairs portfolios – being extremely active and responsive on social media platform Twitter, he has become the one-stop shop for all grievances or requests for help from the people residing in the state – even when they want tickets to IPL matches!
Thanks to his quick replies, witty remarks, he has become one of the most popular Indian politicians on Twitter with over 1.2 million followers. Be it personal thoughts, his whereabouts or official announcements, he actively tweets every day.
While hundreds of people reach out to KTR on Twitter each day, at least 10-15 of them approach him with requests for help or grievances. And KTR takes note of every single one of them.
To those of you wondering if I look at your posts on issues such as Roads/sewerage/water supply, I assure you that I do & forward them to my various heads of departments for action— KTR (@KTRTRS) April 25, 2018
Can’t respond to each of you individually as there are many requests
Keep them coming though
This must make one feel like there must be an army of social media managers sitting there managing his account, responding to people and passing on grievances to concerned departments. But KTR manages his Twitter account on his own. The only help he receives is from three people in his team who manage the official ‘Office of KTR’ account and help him when he needs some information while responding to tweets from his account.
It’s not just municipal, IT issues or those related to his portfolios. KTR receives queries, complaints, requests for help and grievances for all kinds of issues: From medical help, road conditions to issues in smaller towns, providing people with homes and ration cards and even IPL tickets, requests are of all types.
So how does he do it?
Dileep Konatham, director of Digital Media for the Government of Telangana says that most often, two types of requests come in. Request for medical assistance from the Chief Minister Relief Fund (CMRF) and civic grievances.
“When people in distress or those unable to afford medical treatment tweet asking for help, we reach out to them and get their details such as name, hospital, assistance required. Then it is passed on with an attached letter from the minister to the CMRF office who then extends the required help. In certain cases where urgent medical help it required, this entire process is completed in a couple of hours,” Dileep says.
The minister’s office also calls the hospital directly in some cases and gives them an assurance, so the treatment can begin.
Then there are civic issues such as roads, water, drainage issues, etc. In such cases, the concerned utility or head of department – most of who are on Twitter – are tagged and asked to look into the issue.
But its easy to delegate and pass on the responsibility. Is work actually done?
KTR’s office keeps track of every single tweet and follows up, Dileep says. There is a ticket system in place where for every grievance or request forwarded by KTR, a ticket ID is generated using which it is followed up.
And it is probably this responsiveness, and more importantly the social-media savviness that has made KTR seemingly much more popular online, than his father Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao among the people of Telangana.