With Assembly elections in full swing, it is raining advertisements for vernacular dailies in Kashmir as candidates and political parties try to reach out to the maximum number of electorate in the remaining three phases of the polls.
A cursory look at the daily newspapers published from Srinagar shows that political parties are preferring Urdu language newspapers over English dailies for their advertisements in the print media.
A detailed analysis of the newspapers showed that the Urdu dailies are getting most of the election-related advertisements, which has helped some of these newspapers tide over the losses suffered during recent floods.
Kashmir Uzma, one of the leading Urdu dailies in the Valley, had 18 election-related advertisements in its Saturday edition while its parent daily, Greater Kashmir — a leading English language daily — had just four.
One of the biggest advertisements in Greater Kashmir was issued by Finance Minister and National Conference candidate from Chrar-e-Sharief Abdul Rahim Rather. He, however, used Urdu language for the advertisement in the English newspaper.
Daily Aftab, another leading Urdu daily, had 17 poll-related advertisements issued by candidates and political parties. Most of the English dailies published from Srinagar did not have more than four advertisements in their Saturday edition.
Raja Mohiuddin, editor of a newspaper group, said preference of Urdu language dailies was due to the fact that most people in Kashmir can read it.
“From a school dropout to a scholar, everyone in Kashmir can read and understand Urdu. That is why the political parties are preferring Urdu newspapers,” he said.
Some of the candidates maintain that while Urdu newspapers have wider reach in the Valley, issuing advertisement in these dailies is also cheaper compared to English dailies.
“Our target audience is the electorate we seek votes from. They are not from homogeneous background– there are highly educated people, there are barely literates and illiterates too.
Urdu is far more effective than English for these kind of advertisements,” an Independent candidate from Bandipora district said.
“The revenues generated by the election related advertisements has helped us, at least I can talk about my group, to break even after remaining in the red following floods,” Mohiuddin said.
Polling for the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is being held in five phases. The first phase of voting took place on November 25 and the second phase of voting was held on December 2.
The third phase will be held on December 9, fourth phase on December 14 and fifth on December 20. The counting of votes will be held on December 23.