The Congress is set to roll out on Saturday an aggressive advertising campaign for the October 15 Assembly polls that aims to project Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as the face of the party while taunting the Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena for its inability to project a leader for the alliance.
However, while the Congress campaign seeks to exploit the current face-off between BJP and Sena over seat-sharing, its own ally NCP was quick to point out that they would fight the polls under a joint leadership if their alliance remained intact.
NCP’s national spokesperson Nawab Malik said that while the Congress could project Chavan as its leader, his party would have its own leadership. “If the alliance persists, elections will be fought under a joint leadership,” he said.
The BJP too dismissed the Congress campaign as a ploy to defelect attention from its “misrule”. State BJP’s chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “They (the Congress) say they are fighting elections under Prithviraj Chavan. But even people in Chavan’s own constituency (Karad South) refuse to acknowledge him as the leader. A Congress MLA who represents this constituency has refused to relinquish his claim on the seat. How can he then be acceptable as a leader for the entire state?”
The Congress, which has hired advertisement and branding agencies Crayonad and Network for the media campaign, seeks to counter 15 years of anti-incumbency through the blitz and highlight the alleged misrule of the Shiv Sena-BJP government in the state between 1995 and 1999 .
A senior Congress leader who played a key role in designing the media campaign, said, “While highlighting achievements of the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra, the media campaign will also focus on the lack of governance, rise in extortion and crime and law and order problems during the four years of the Sena-BJP rule,” he said.
Incidentally, the Congress’s poll committee chief Narayan Rane was chief minister for nearly a year under the Sena-BJP regime.
The campaign will also attack the BJP on the Narendra Modi government’s alleged failure to deliver on its promises in the first 100 days of its rule. It will also highlight the alleged misrule and corruption in various civic bodies, including Mumbai, which are controlled by the saffron alliance.
The campaign will also showcase the “achievements” of the Chavan government in area of youth and women empowerment, healthcare, farmer welfare and social justice. For urban centres such as Mumbai, the Congress will run a dedicated campaign on infrastructure development and the affordable housing initiative of the Chavan government. “In the Lok Sabha campaign, we lost to the BJP in the communication race. We will run an aggressive campaign this time,” a senior Congress minister said.
Taking a cue from Modi’s Lok Sabha campaign, the Congress has planned a saturated media campaign for the Maharashtra polls, with advertisement in print, electronic and social media as well as in cinema halls, besides the traditional outdoor campaign.