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Eye on elections, Sheila unleashes media blitzkrieg

The Sheila Dikshit Govt is in full swing to muster as many brownie points from voters before the city goes to polls, reports Anuradha Mukherjee.
Hindustan Times | By Anuradha Mukherjee, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 09, 2008 11:26 PM IST

Elections are only a few months away and the Sheila Dikshit government is in full swing to muster as many brownie points from voters before the city goes to polls. Sops are flying thick and the government’s publicity machinery is working overtime to list its achievements as subtly as possible.

Display hoardings at bus queue shelters speak of the improving standards of education in state-run schools and living conditions in the city, “thanks to the Metro rail, flyovers, new buses”.

But a media blitz is yet to follow. An entirely new series of television and radio spots, print and display advertisements are being produced that do not go into specifics, but look at the overall “improvement the government has made to the city”.

In a week, the Delhi government is going to launch a brand campaign for which actor Om Puri has been roped in for voice over. Kucch siyasate dekhti hai sapne, awaam se sanjedaari ki… (Some governments want partnership with citizens) is the tagline of the campaign –– clearly alluding to the Bhagidari projects.

“It is a brand campaign. Instead of saying that the government has done all this, we merely try to convey that life in the city has improved,” said Udai Sahai, director information and publicity.

And do not be too surprised if you see an advertisement in your newspaper citing five reasons why the price rise should not worry you, or what difference regularisation will make in the lives of those living in unauthorised colonies.

Officials say the government publicity machinery is not involved in political advertising and will only do their job of showcasing the government’s achievements. The BJP has already put up hoardings in the city comparing prices of essential food items cash in on the price rise.

Starting with the rollback of Rs 40 on the price of LPG cylinders, to the offer of provisional regularisation to unauthorised colonies, to increased quota of ration for underprivileged, the Delhi government has been handing out goodies to ensure its next five years in office. The government decided to foot the Rs 165 crore bill for providing LPG at affordable rates to the aam aadmi.

“There is a special emphasis on roads, flyovers, buses, hospitals and other infrastructure and ensuring that pending projects finish in time. Any glitches at this stage can undo all our work,” a government source said.

While transport projects like the Metro rail, new low-floor buses, improved roads and increased flyovers hold centre stage, the government is also going full steam on the publicity of its social welfare projects like Ladli, that promises Rs 1 lakh in your daughter’s account if she studies beyond Class X.

Jingles on FM channels repeatedly remind voters of the welfare scheme. Bhagidari, Stri Shakti and environment are some of the other areas the government is hoping to gather appreciation.

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