It is being made out that political parties and individuals make waves during elections. These waves are supposedly driven by individual charisma and enterprise, ardently supported by millions of voters looking for an alternative from the terrible crisis created by the incumbent party. Such waves, it appears, are a hallmark of Indian democracy, where people decide who should rule them. Nothing can be farther from truth.
Mainstream media is agog with videos and reports on the spectacular Modi wave. You pick up the morning newspaper to read over a cup of coffee and an unabashed Modi stares at you over a full page advertisement hiding behind him all other events that have happened the previous day over the entire globe. You switch on the TV during breakfast and Modi sermonizes about how your vote can make all the difference to deciding who will be the next Prime Minister. While you are driving to work, the FM radio jingle makes no pretence about who will be ruling the country for the next 5 years.
Veteran media planners have estimated that planned spends by BJP on all media, including print, television, outdoor, internet and radio may be anywhere from 5000 to 10,000 crores of rupees.
It is estimated that the BJP has booked 15,000 hoardings across India costing Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 lakh per hoarding per month in cheaper locations, and as much as Rs. 20 lakh per hoarding per month in Mumbai’s Nariman Point. This itself adds upto Rs. 2500 crores. Prominent advertisement slots across national, regional and vernacular newspapers for the election period would add upto Rs.500 crores. Advertisements in magazines would have cost another Rs.150 crores. An estimated 2000 spots a day across Hindi, English and regional news, general entertainment and sports channels would be costing about Rs. 1000 crores.
Where does all this money come from? Is it possible that this is being financed from the daily earnings of working people? Have they been so mesmerized by Modi and his “accomplishments” in Gujarat that they have decided to bet on whatever little savings they have on electing Modi?
Such huge amounts of money can come only from the richest business houses who stand to gain by Modi and his party coming to power. It can come only from those who plan to reap huge profits from getting licenses approved for huge government projects, mega projects dependent on loot of natural resources and massive investments that will double and triple on the back of cheap labour of the Indian workers.
From the time that BJP captured power in Gujarat and installed Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister, the ruling establishment and multinational corporations have been assured that their interests will be top priority for the government. The 2002 massacre of muslims polarized the community and helped the Modi government to push through a massive liberalization program. Multinational advertising firms such as Grey Worldwide and APCO Worldwide were hired to promote the brand of a “vibrant Gujarat”. Many investor summits were organized in which billions of dollars of investments were mobilized from multinationals.
The United States sent its ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, to meet Narendra Modi considered to be a preliminary step to lift the visa ban that it had imposed on him in 2005.
The Congress is not far behind. It has also been pouring into its election campaign machinery thousands of crores, whose funders have no more honourable inclinations than BJPs. The only difference may be that the rich and powerful are inclining more towards the BJP than the Congress this time, since the latter has become thoroughly discredited over the years and lost its sheen for its corporate masters. The ruling establishment now needs a new horse for its caravan of loot and plunder. Sensing this opportunity, the BJP and Narendra Modi have gathered their act together and are presenting themselves as a credible and trustworthy alternative to the Congress.
The 16th Lok Sabha elections, will put in power a party and prime minister driven not by a popular wave of people’s aspirations but by a media wave funded by the darkest forces.
From the LRS President’s blog