A Rs 100 crore advertisement blitzkrieg from public money focussed on Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda - clearly aimed at next month's assembly elections - is forcing other parties in Haryana's dusty politics to step up their advertisement budgets.
Hooda's image building by the Haryana government has been ramped up to beat the Election Commission's (EC) formal announcement of Haryana's assembly polls. The elections, likely to be held mid-October, are likely to be announced next week by the EC.
The whole Hooda campaign has put other major political parties in the fray this time on their toes.
Sources in these parties said that the major opposition parties have been forced to pump in anything from Rs.500-600 crore jointly to match up to Hooda's campaign.
Be it national, regional or local TV channels, newspapers or the social media, Hooda is being projected big-time through TV commercials, advertisements, jingles and posters - courtesy the public relations department of the Haryana government, in the last four months.
Well placed sources told IANS that a group of close aides of Hooda and his MP son Deepinder Hooda had got the work of making TV commercials and jingles worth millions of rupees assigned to private agencies.
"A big chunk of the TV advertisements were being given to a news channel owned by a leading Congress politician from Haryana," one source said.
A major controversy has already erupted over the huge spending being done by the Haryana government just before the election. The Punjab and Haryana high court is already seized of the matter with a petition alleging misuse of public funds for Hooda.
"Despite it openly being a political campaign, public money is being used for Hooda's projection for next month's assembly polls. There should be some way to monitor and curb this practice," an election official told IANS here.
Haryana's main opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), has already initiated TV commercials to highlight everything that has been wrong with Haryana in the past nearly a decade of Hooda rule in the state.
The INLD campaign hits out at Hooda with its "Golibaaz Gulabi Gang Sarkar" campaign to highlight the massive corruption and land scams that have happened under the Hooda regime.
The BJP, which is eyeing forming a government on its own for the first time in Haryana, is attacking the Hooda government for scams, corruption and discrimination in development.
The Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, is not sparing the Hooda government either.
Hooda's friend-turned-political adversary, former union minister Venod Sharma, with his newly floated party - Jan Chetna Party (JCP), is highlighting alleged favouritism in government jobs by the Hooda government. Sharma was closest to Hooda for most part of nearly a decade till he left the Congress March this year.
Jat-community leader Birender Singh, whose aspirations to become chief minister are well known, recently quit the Congress to join the BJP claiming that the Congress in Haryana had reduced itself to being "Hooda Congress".