Parties hit with some ads, miss with some
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When Gujarat completes voting next week, it will bring to an end a season that has seen an advertisement war that has ranged from colourful and funny to sarcastic and nasty over a number of phases.
By now, the ads have gone out of TV and radio because of Election Commission restrictions on broadcast, but those in the print media continued even today. "Any medium that displays to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus has been prohibited," said additional chief electoral officer Sanjeev Kumar.
The parties began by picking up issues in September, then moved on to specific promises in manifesto season, before the ad wars peaked with personal attacks. The BJP's earliest venture was a thappad ad on TV, showing the common man slapping "the Congress" for rising prices. The Congress responded with ads showing the poor state of things in Gujarat, then the BJP hit back. The ads had wrong images illustrating the Congress's stands, the BJP pointed out — a child supposedly representing malnourishment in Gujarat was actually from Sri Lanka; a farmer who had lost his land was from Rajasthan.
BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu found himself the personal target of ads by the GPP, Keshubhai Patel's party. His remarks about Keshubhai had offended the latter's supporters and many of his community and the party responded with a spate of print ads directly condemning Sidhu.
Thursday saw the BJP mocking the Congress — in print — for having failed to announce a chief ministerial candidate. The ad shows Narendra Modi with a question mark next to him. The BJP's campaign has been centred around Modi while the Congress has pitched a brand ambassador called Tulika to represent the voter.
"Attacks and counterattacks during an election campaign have become the order of the day," says adman Sanjoy Chakraborty of Triton Communications. "In our political system we do not have debates like the American system, so the parties have been going at each other, back and forth, either making allegations or clearing them with advertisements."
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