SAD plaster poll-bound Punjab with Ads and Hoardings
Akali leaders feel that their is a media perception being built that Punjab has created no jobs and has become a drugs haven.
“We did a lot but the message has not got through. AAP has stolen a lead in social media but we are catching up,” a leader handling the campaign says. Union Minister Harsimrat Badal is posting videos on social media to highlight misinformation against the regime. “7 lakh youngsters appeared for a Punjab police recruitment exam. We did dope testing – less than 0.5% tested positive for drug abuse,” she says in her message.
To correct the perception problem, Akali Dal is making an all-out attempt to “make the message” reach the masses as it faces nine years of anti-incumbency. Well-designed hoardings have sprung up in abundance in major Punjab cities over this month, a majority prominently displaying the face of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal to narrate various development works.
Aage Vadhda (Marching ahead) Punjab, Raj Nahi Sewa (Not rule but service) and Punjab Punjabiyan Da (Punjab is of Punjabis) – these are the catchwords being used by the Badals to stress on their developmental works and harp on Arvind Kejriwal’s outsider image. The slogan on its other publicity material tries to negate the feeling of anger against the ruling party as it says – ‘Proud to be an Akali, Proud to be an Punjabi’.
The Mohali International Airport, new thermal power plants, slick highways making it possible to reach any corner of Punjab from Chandigarh within 5 hours, nearly one lakh students from outside the state studying in the Punjab colleges and institutes – the Akali campaign revolves around these achievements. “Why would parents send their children to Punjab to study if drugs are rampant here?,” a senior Akali leader asks.
Akali leader says Punjabis by nature are vocal. “Our 35% votes are secure with us. The 65% others are extremely vocal and hence the image that we are very unpopular,” he says. He adds that NRIs, a major influencer in any Punjab poll, are against Akalis as they expect infrastructure facilities like abroad here. NRIs are also in land disputes with their local relatives and want out legal system to work like abroad,” he explains.
Akalis are now on an overdrive to inaugurate new projects. Hectic work is on to complete a 200-kilometre long first-of-its-kind concretised highway from Chandigarh to Bathinda, Harsmirat’s Lok Sabha constituency. A bridge is set to be inaugurated in Bathinda for straight access to Lambi, Prakash Singh Badal’s constituency. A new bridge on Beas river to connect Majha and Doaba regions was inaugurated last week.