Speeches on loudspeakers at public meetings and the distribution of printed leaflets and pamphlets have been two traditional ways for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to communicate its message to voters, many of them poor and illiterate.
But now, as Mayawati kicks off her campaign for the coming Assembly elections, the party is trying to visually communicate the spectacle that her rallies are. Besides the usual blaring of audio songs to galvanise party supporters, slogans painted on placards, and huge blue-and-white marquees, the rallies now also have camera cranes and a team of about a dozen videographers working to capture its visuals.
A Delhi-based firm, IBL Communications, has been tasked with the videography of Mayawati’s rallies. They employ about seven to eight cameras at the rally venue so that all angles are captured, an employee said. Mayawati is videographed from the moment she alights from the helicopter near the venue, to when she sits in the car and when she reaches the dais.
One cameraman is placed at the dais behind the podium from which Mayawati addresses the crowd. No photo-journalists or video-journalists are allowed to reach the dais. A person working with the team said the camera at the dais is placed in such a way that it captures most of the crowd.
The feed is provided to all the news channels to air. A few regional news channels from the state live-broadcast most of her speeches, which are usually about an hour long.
The videographers’ team is now planning to use wireless steadicams in her coming rallies, so they are able to film the whole venue and gathered crowds without the visuals getting affected by shakes and bumps.
Mayawati has announced rallies named “Bahujan Hitay Bahujan Sukhay” across the state. She held the first rally in Agra on August 21, and the second in Azamgarh on Sunday. While Mayawati referred to the crowds at her rallies as “lakhs of people”, both rallies were estimated to have been attended by over one lakh people. Most people are brought by BSP leaders and workers in buses, cars and SUVs.
BSP leaders have often complained that the media does not fairly describe the attendance of people at these rallies. Sources said the party hopes to counter that with its own visuals. Party leaders have highlighted the huge gatherings at her recent rallies, as a counter to opponents’ claim that the BSP is in bad condition after several leaders deserted the party over the last few weeks.
Parties like the Congress and BJP have often used their own videography teams for party functions, including rallies held by Narendra Modi as BJP’s PM candidate before 2014 Lok Sabha elections. BSP sources said that the party had used professional videographers during Mayawati’s rally in Lucknow on her birthday in January 2014, but could not use them during the campaign. The party is now going to use videographers in her coming rallies, two of which will be held in Allahabad and Saharanpur in September.
Declining to divulge more details about the scope of their work for the BSP, Sanjay Rai, who runs IBL Communications, said he has worked for the BSP chief’s programmes earlier also, and first filmed her programme when she inaugurated Ambedkar Park in Noida as UP CM in 2011.