“Namashkar, main Arvind Kejriwal bol raha hoon (hello, this is Arvind Kejriwal speaking)” — words heard across FM channels in the Capital almost every day. Be it his tirade against corruption, campaign for a cleaner city or public appeals to carpool on days of odd-even restrictions, the chief minister doesn’t miss any opportunity to connect with Delhiites through airwaves.
But the proverbial early bird was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who tapped into the huge outreach of radio with his popular Mann Ki Baat programme, where he takes up crucial issues like gender equality, economic growth and skill development on the last Sunday of every month.
Opposition criticism that he should listen to the common man instead of “preaching his own mann ki baat” has failed to dent Modi’s spirit or the show’s popularity.
Taking the PM’s cue, several chief ministers have jumped on the radio bandwagon.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan used his own version of Mann Ki Baat to address farmers in the state on October 28, a day after the original programme completed its 15th edition.
The popular medium has reportedly found a fan in West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too whose party may soon start a similar radio programme. “Spreading our chief minister’s message through radio is an option before the assembly elections in West Bengal,” chief spokesman of the Trinamool Congress Derek O’Brien told HT.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh launched the Raman Ke Goth (Raman talks) in September.
The programme, conducted in an interview format, is broadcast on All India Radio the second Sunday of every month. Singh, the first CM to use the platform, uses a mix of Hindi and Chhattisgarhi dialect to address the public.
The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh has taken to the radio to promote an upcoming NRI summit in Agra where the “young and dynamic” chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, will also be present.
In Jharkhand, the Raghubar Das-government makes extensive use of the medium for public awareness campaigns, though the CM himself doesn’t address the show.
FM channels in India, both state-owned and private, boast of more than 15 million listeners, according to an Indian Readership Survey (IRS).
More and more political parties are waking up to the medium’s importance after the Supreme Court last year barred photos of chief ministers in government advertisements, allowing the use of photos of only the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
Shows like Mann Ki Baat, however, are yet to debut in the southern states.