The UPA’s Bharat Nirman and the NDA’s unsuccessful India Shining campaign have quite a bit in common -- both tried to take credit for developing India and both involved a media blitzkrieg, but the similarities end when it comes to costs.
The UPA will end up spending nearly Rs 450 crore on its campaign — stretching over two years — more than double the Rs 200 crore the NDA spent on India Shining.
Government sources attributed the cost to the doubling of advertising rates in the last decade, across all media formats. “The media space has also expanded exponentially,” an official explained.
Social networking sites have become a key venue for parties to garner votes and the UPA’s Bharat Nirman has extensively used social media for outreach programs coupled with actual outdoor programs in rural India.
A senior government official said the campaign cost was not exorbitant considering that the UPA spent over Rs 3,50,000 crore on welfare measures in 2013-14. “Spending less than 1% of that on outreach programs is justified as it helps in informing people about the schemes meant for their welfare,” the official said.
UPA ministers Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal and Jairam Ramesh had raised the issue of the government losing the “perception” battle with the BJP and AAP. The UPA and its media managers felt that a more aggressive campaign was needed in light of the relentless accusations of corruption and underachievement by the BJP’s PM candidate Narenda Modi and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal.
After a drubbing in the five assembly polls last year, the UPA re-jigged Bharat Nirman to showcase the development carried out in UPA’s 10-year rule.
An example of it was an audio visual campaign on television and radio stations showing a person recalling clogged roads, limited banking services and a non-existent airport ten years ago with the present day infrastructure.
Another radio advertisement had a person yelling at his friend living abroad not knowing how much an Indian city had changed in the last ten years. None of the advertisements mentions the UPA government.
The latest basket of UPA advertisements are striking similar to NDA’s India Shining campaign although Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari refused to draw the analogy.
“We are definitely not planning a Shining India type of campaign... the story of UPA is based on evidence and statistics,” he had told Hindustan Times when the second part of Bharat Nirman campaign was launched in August 2013. “The idea is to strike a balance between what is necessary information and what would not be an overkill.”