The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in election mode. It's not just about wooing voters by doling out goodies in the form of tax and other fiscal sops, but about image-building at an estimated budget of over Rs 100 crore at the taxpayers' expense. And this time, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is directly involved.
According to top Government sources, various Ministries and public sector enterprises have already been sounded out to highlight their achievements during the last five years.
"The idea is to have a publicity blitzkrieg even before the Election Commission announces the poll dates and the code of conduct comes into effect," they said. The brief: cash in on the feel-good factor by portraying the developmental successes of the Government. All the available media would be used to send out this message.
"The print, television, pamphlets and all kinds of communication medium would be used and the success would be attributed to Prime Minister Vajpayee," said sources.
Earlier, on the eve of Assembly elections in five States, the Finance Ministry had unleashed the Rs 34-crore `India is Shining' campaign, for which professional help from Grey Worldwide was also sought. This time round too, the Finance Ministry, the Planning Commission, and the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Agriculture, Power and some others are expected to seek help from private advertising agencies as part of the Government's image-building exercise.
"Various Ministries have been asked to work on campaigns independently as the Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity (DAVP) has been facing paucity of funds," the sources said.
So, even as the PMO, under the aegis of Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Mr Sudheendra Kulkarni, prepares a blueprint, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry does not want to be left behind.
The I&B Ministry has had some internal meetings with the DAVP, which could play a crucial media-buying role as it would be able to negotiate with the print and television companies for good rates.
After the launch of DD News just ahead of the Assembly elections last year, the Ministry has also given a go-ahead to Prasar Bharati for the launch of All India Radio's (AIR) independent news channel.
The Ministry has allocated Rs 10 crore for the project and will soon recruit about 150 personnel. The entire operation is being digitalised and the newly constructed office would be used for it.