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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress, BJP go all out in mega publicity drive

The BJP sent out more than 90 million text messages and 110 million audio messages to voters and had its workers place phone calls to nearly 250 million as part of their campaign, according to a party spokesperson on condition of anonymity.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 23, 2019 16:46 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Congress,India
The BJP sent out more than 90 million text messages and 110 million audio messages to voters and had its workers place phone calls to nearly 250 million as part of their campaign.(HT Photo)

Eight hundred thousand seconds of airtime, 102.5 million voice messages and 12 million printed pamphlets -- these are some of the numbers emerging from the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party camps on the campaign blitzkrieg they waged in the 17th general elections.

The Congress spent more than 800,000 seconds of airtime on television, nearly 20 million seconds on radio and printed more than 10 million pamphlets to publicise its Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) scheme, guaranteeing a minimum income of Rs72,000 a year to India’s poorest of the poor.The numbers are from an internal document of the Congress party.

The BJP sent out more than 90 million text messages and 110 million audio messages to voters and had its workers place phone calls to nearly 250 million as part of their campaign, according to a party spokesperson on condition of anonymity. In all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s star campaigner, attended 142 rallies and Congress president Rahul Gandhi 158.

In a presentation that the Congress publicity campaign team is placing before Gandhi this week, accessed by HT, the team says that it closed in on 8,82,446 seconds of airtime on 54 channels in 36,711 spots between April 1 and May 10 this year. Among these spot placements on TV, 25% were aired in the first break, 57% during the last break and 18% in between. Radio ads, aired in 399 Lok Sabha seats in 26 states and four Union Territories, stretched for 1,88,92,955 seconds in a bid to reach out to 517 million voters.

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“We customised these campaigns in different regions, ensuring that issues were highlighted in regional languages...,” said a member of the Congress publicity committee on condition of anonymity. The Youth Congress printed 12 million pamphlets and more than 10,000 flags to publicise the Nyay scheme.

While the BJP remained silent on these parameters, a party leader said on condition of anonymity that the party’s poll campaign was more expansive in reachthan other parties. The BJP set up 162 communication centres across the country through which 15,682 BJP workers got in touch with 248.1 million people over the phone.

Data from media research firm AdEx from March 2019 suggests that while the BJP had a 4% share of TV ads, the Congress had 7%.

Former Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi said,“The numbers highlight the money power of the parties, and while there is a legal limit of Rs 17 lakh for a candidate, there is no cap on spend by parties, negating the logic of a ceiling.”

First Published: May 23, 2019 06:58 IST

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