Stung by CAA-NRC backlash, Modi govt plans mega publicity campaign to boost image

Less than a year after winning big Lok Sabha majority, Modi govt goes into ‘damage-control’ mode ahead of important state assembly elections this year.

AMRITA NAYAK DUTTA 16 January, 2020

Protests against the CAA have impacted the image of the Modi government | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Protests against the CAA have impacted the image of the Modi government | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

New Delhi: The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the scrapping of Article 370, the Balakot air strikes, strengthening the economy and schemes for India’s poor — the Narendra Modi government is set to package all these moves into a fresh multimedia publicity campaign that is set to be launched soon.

The timing is noteworthy — the campaign is set to be released just about eight months after the Modi-led BJP stormed to a second term in power with a bigger majority.

A top source in the government said a need was felt for a fresh round of publicity because the government has received a lot of bad press due to the nationwide protests against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens, and the attacks on students at two central universities in the capital — Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The “damage-control” measure may also be crucial ahead of important state assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar this year, other sources in the government added.

Although a name for the campaign has not been finalised yet, one of the suggestions is to call it ‘Har kaam desh ke naam’ (all work in the country’s name).

Also read: Kashmir and CAA protests forcing foreign leaders to take a second look at PM Modi’s India

The 10 themes

The campaign is set to be built around 10 broad themes, one of which will be on ‘Bold Decisions’ to publicise the government’s  “decisive action” such as the CAA, Article 370 and Balakot.

The other themes will include ‘Strengthening Economy — 5 Trillion Dollar Economy’, ‘Infrastructure Special Focus’, farmers, women, ‘BPL/Disadvantaged’, youth, middle-class, ‘Digital India’ and ‘Emerging India’.

All ministries have been asked to study these 10 themes, and see which scheme can be added under each theme, top sources in the government told ThePrint.

The ‘Strengthening Economy’ theme will feature moves like merging public sector banks, opening up Foreign Direct Investment in many sectors, and an allocation of Rs 100 lakh crore for developing modern infrastructure over five years.

‘Infrastructure Special Focus’ will include schemes like Sagarmala, Udaan and one crore LED street lights, while those like Ujjwala and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao will fall under the theme of women.

The Modi government’s decision on triple talaq will feature under ‘Bold Decisions’ as well as ‘Women’.

Also read: US investment firm reducing Indian govt bond holdings as CAA, Kashmir hurt economic outlook

Camps, expert interviews

Sources said the government plans to put out 10 advertisements in prominent newspapers based on the themes.

The plan also requires ministries directly involved with the implementation of schemes to hold camps for beneficiaries in select districts, and launch social media campaigns on their achievements.

There are also plans to identify domain experts and telecast their interviews, and put out articles and editorials written by them in newspapers on specific themes.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and state broadcaster Prasar Bharati will also work on these themes. Doordarshan and All India Radio will be involved in live coverage of the events, as well as broadcasting the success stories associated with each of the Modi government’s schemes and initiatives. They will also host special programmes, such as talk shows and other audience-based programmes, on the themes.

The government also plans to rope in private FM radio channels to put out its message to the people.

Also read: Worried about global image, BJP busy mobilising Indians abroad to hold pro-CAA protests'

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