The Congress has launched a massive propaganda blitzkrieg in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections projecting Rahul Gandhi prominently. Rahul and not Congress president Sonia Gandhi appears to be face of the campaign.
Well-before the poll code of conduct comes into force, the party has initiated a nation-wide Rs700 crore mass publicity drive aimed at wooing various sections of the electorate. The advertisements are being aired through television, radio, newspapers, hoardings etc. In Mumbai, the party has purchased space on hundreds of BEST buses to display its ads featuring Rahul Gandhi.
The effort appears to be to give an image make over to the organisation which has been at the receiving end of opposition attacks after a raft of scams. "We have decided to target each group and strata of the society. We are airing the advertisements on television, radio and news papers and displaying on hoardings at prime spots. Our government had done lot of work in terms of social welfare and economic development, but we grossly failed to market them. The current campaign will neutralise the negative propaganda of the opposition and project a positive image of the party," said a senior Congress party functionary.
Incidentally, the UPA government too has been spending crores of rupees highlighting the "achievements" of the Manmohan Singh government. These ads have pictures of Sonia Gandhi since she is chairperson of the UPA.
US-based Burson-Marsteller and Dentsu India, a Japanese publicity major have been roped in to give a massive image makeover for the party and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose recent television interview was a major setback for his image.
These firms will create the buzz on social media by posting Congress-related tweets and Rahul Gandhi's speeches. "The saffron brigade and BJP prime minister candidate Narendra Modi's group are very active on social media. Now, we will surely counter them by changing our working style. These firms also helping us selecting the content that would connect us to the people in large number. Our ad campaign costing Rs700 crore has already created buzz and generated the positive debate in favour of Congress," said senior congress leader on condition of anonymity. He said they are identifying areas where the hoardings will be put up to attract people's attention.
The Congress party's focus is on food security bill, right to information act , NREGA—government employment scheme, Aadhar card, land reform policy, etc.
Congress party general secretary and Lok Sabha election core group member Gurudas Kamat told dna that the publicity department has been handled by Jairam Ramesh. Jairam Ramesh was unavailable for comment.
Besides, promoting the Congress-led UPA II government work, these agencies will also makeover Rahul Gandhi's image. "Rahul Gandhi is our leader and prime ministerial candidate. Modi has been spending crores on his election campaign . The BJP is spending much more than us. Our publicity budget is peanuts compared to the BJP," said senior state government leader.
He said the Congress does not believe in publicity gimmicks. "But today's is the marketing world. We are doing good work and we still you have to market it. We are victims of the era of marketing. If the opposition is aggressively doing it, then why should we lag behind," he asked.