‘No celebration and only communication’ was supposed to be the BJP-led government’s motto on its first anniversary. But, the bill for the ad blitzkrieg it is planning is likely to run to at least Rs15 crore.
Although CM Devendra Fadnavis said there will be no celebration, the state has made a special allocation of Rs15 crore — from an annual outlay of Rs21.88 crore for publicity of government schemes — for a week-long publicity campaign on the government’s achievements in the past year.
The Opposition has slammed the government for spending such a huge amount, especially when the drought situation in the state is getting worse.
The campaign will focus on eight of the flagship projects implemented in the year, with a half-page advertisement in newspapers of three languages, audio-visuals on TV and FM channels, hoardings at key locations and on public buses, among others.
A Mantralaya official said the eight flagship projects the government has identified includes the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan, Aaple Sarkar portal, Make in Maharashtra, Dr Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills and the Right to Services initiative, among others. “The TV and radio commercials will be produced by our empaneled agencies and will be telecast on six leading Marathi news channels. A major chunk of the allocation, however, will be spent on print advertisements,” said the official.
The government’s publicity department has been given one clear instruction: the campaign should establish that the year-old government is way ahead of the Congress and NCP that ruled the state for 15 years. “As our protocol does not allow us to compare or criticise the earlier government, advertisements issued by the ruling party will indirectly focus on the superiority of the new government,” he said.
The Opposition has slammed the government for taking up such a campaign, when the number of suicides by farmers in the state is rising. “The government has no money to spend on drought and waivers announced for students. It has no option but to stress on publicity, as it has nothing to its credit to highlight on its first anniversary,” said Nawab Malik, chief spokesperson of the Nationalist Congress Party. Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil said, “This kind of spending on publicity has exposed the government’s priorities. Publicity of projects that are yet to prove their mettle and funding to a dance troupe from contingency funds are some examples of their wrong policies.”
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, however, said the expenditure on publicity is from the annual outlay and no independent provision was made. “The Congress-NCP government spent Rs850 crore on publicity in its five-year term. There is nothing wrong in making people aware about the government schemes. In fact, we are doing it without spending any additional amount,” he said.