It was over Rs. 150 crore for the ‘India Shining’ campaign in 2004. It was around Rs. 200 crore for the ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign in 2009. Figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government has already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements.
To begin the campaign season formally, the government recently re-launched the ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign with a reported budget of Rs 35 crore for an initial run of 15 days. Overall, the Javed Akhtar-Pradeep Sarkar output is expected to cost a whopping Rs. 180 crore.
But, for the UPA and the Congress party, the picture is not as rosy as it was in 2009.
The Congress party led UPA-2 government that is completing four years in office on May 22 has become synonymous with corruption. Scams like 2G spectrum allocation, coal blocks allocation, Commonwealth Games, many Defence deal scams and scams in projects that helped the UPA-1 win the 2009 elections like the farm debt waiver and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have created an abysmally low credibility scenario for the government.
With the forced ouster of the two cabinet ministers, Ashwani Kumar from the Law & Justice ministry and Pawan Kumar Bansal, from the Railway ministry, the debates on the possibility of early General Elections, otherwise to be scheduled around May 2014, have got a step-up.
The only breather for the Congress party and the UPA is the absence of a united and clean opposition. The major opposition party BJP just lost the Karnataka assembly elections fought on the main issue of corruption, to the Congress. Important regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Jatna Dal, Janta Dal (United), have had history of corruption with tainted leaders.
Also, in spite of growing corruption allegations and involvement of the UPA members in scams, the Congress party has been able to win assembly elections of Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Puducherry, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and now Karnataka in the second term of the UPA when the political and bureaucratic corruption have touched the newer heights. That makes the Congress strategists think that the ‘public memory is short and it can easily be swept away in the impulse of the moment’.
The strategy makers in the Congress party believe the populist schemes focusing on the rural India and marginalized population segments of the urban India could still help the Congress party win over the upcoming elections in case of a fractured opposition.
And so, the Congress party has already started working, in full throttle, on its campaign for the General Election 2014 with the launch of ‘Bharat Nirman’ version-2.
But, going by the indications and the negative sentiments against the Congress, its many leaders including Manmohan Singh as well as against the ‘Gandhis’ after the alleged Robert Vadra cover-ups, ‘Bharat Nirman’, this time, may well prove to be the UPA’s very own ‘India Shining’.
After all, every Javed Akhtar and every Pradeep Sarkar creation has not been a hit. They have had their share of duds.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/