Politics of Publicity: Parties up in arms over Odisha govt’s massive publicity spending

Rs 350 crore in 8 years and Rs 227 crore for 2018-19 only has raised several questions

Bhubaneswar: Opposition parties today lashed out at the Odisha government for allegedly splurging crores of rupees on publicity. While the BJP said that the declining popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is forcing the party to spend such massive amount of public money to shore up ‘Brand Naveen’, Congress alleged that the fear of anti-incumbency is giving sleepless nights to ruling-BJD.

Odisha government reportedly spent a total of Rs 350 crore on publicity in the past eight years. As per the reply to an RTI query, Odisha government has spent a total of Rs 350.34 crore (Rs 350, 34, 84, 595) since December 1, 2010 till date. Out of this, Rs 313.74 crores has been spent in print media, Rs 21.95 crores in electronic media and Rs 14.64 crores on hoardings.

 

Odisha Elections 2019However, what is surprising is the fact that Odisha Information and Public Relations Minister Pratap Jena, in reply to a question from Congress MLA Kailash Chandra Kulesika in Odisha Assembly, had revealed that for 2018-19 alone, Rs 226.85 crore has been earmarked for publicity.

 “Failure is eating away Brand Naveen like termites. If the brand has really such influencing power, why such amount of taxpayers’ money is being spent by the government on publicity,” questioned Odisha BJP vice-president, Samir Mohanty, adding that the State government has increased the spending on publicity substantially in view of the 2019 polls.

Congress alleged that both the BJP and the BJD depend and see their future hinging on publicity. “Both the BJD in Odisha and the BJP at the Centre are only good at publicity. They are spending crores on publicity. If he (CM Naveen) is really popular among the people, he shouldn’t spend such huge amount on publicity,” said senior Congress leader, Rama Chandra Khuntia.

BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra trained his guns at BJP and said a party which has spent Rs 4300 crore on publicity in last four years should first introspect and then come up with such allegations. “Targeting the State government on spending on publicity is laughable. Is the party which has spent over Rs 4,300 crore on publicity in four years, asking the question? ” said Patra while taking a dig at the BJP.

On the other hand, senior journalist Nabin Das said that expenditure in such a huge scale was never seen earlier, but things have changed in the last couple of years. “When the end is nearer, such things happen and it seems, publicity is the only hope for the incumbent BJD government,” Das added.