Amarinder's campaign caravan set to roll
By Jaideep Sarin,
Chandigarh, July 8 (IANS) Punjab's next assembly elections are about seven months away but Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wants to take no chances. He is set to unleash a multi-million-rupee publicity campaign to help the Congress retain power.
The state government, its departments and other agencies are likely to spend nearly Rs.150 million in the publicity blitzkrieg to "reach out" to the people.
The high-flier chief minister - he uses government helicopters and aircraft excessively - seems to be realizing the ground realities. No wonder a motorized chariot, which his supporters will call a 'rath', is being prepared for him.
The vehicle will ferry the chief minister, his loyalists and select mediapersons across Punjab to cover his interaction with the voters.
"Media - electronic and print - would be given utmost importance. It would be something on the lines of the US presidential poll campaign," said a confidant of the chief minister.
He said talks were on with a leading coach fabricator to build the bullet-proof luxury vehicle for the chief minister's entourage.
Songs, jingles and other publicity material are being beamed on a few Punjabi channels highlighting the achievements of Amarinder Singh's four years in office.
"Captain di sarkar" (Captain's government) -- Amarinder Singh is widely called a captain because he was one in the Indian Army in the 1960s - is one of the songs being shown on television channels.
In newspapers, Amarinder Singh makes it to the front pages of all publications that sell in Punjab, thanks to an advertising campaign launched by the public relations department over two months ago.
Sources in the chief minister's office say that a professional PR firm would be hired to run the election campaign. Fresh polls are most likely in February, and the Congress faces a tough challenge from the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
At a meeting here last week, various departments and government agencies were directed to release funds to the state's PR department for the publicity work to be carried out for the government.
Amarinder Singh's powerful media adviser B.I.S. Chahal is coordinating the entire media and publicity exercise in the run-up to the polls.