Elections 2019: In a run up to polls, BJP to spend over Rs 12,000 crore on Social Media, Ads and Digital PR in the next 12 months

BY PRANAV GHOSH | Mumbai | 26th May 2018: According to informed sources, media planners, social media experts, advertising industry professionals and election strategists, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will spend over Rs 12,000 crore in the next 12 months in a massive build-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

IndiaScoops.com spoke to nearly 150 experts from various fields in India and abroad to arrive at these figures and the real picture is still more shocking. Of this figure, 50 per cent of the above amount of Rs 12,000 crore will be spent 3-4 months before the elections.

About 60 per cent of the total amount, or Rs 8000 crore is expected to be in black money or will be spent indirectly – not by the party – but by its well-wishers, party supporters and sympathizers and industrialists close to the BJP in a proxy digital war that has almost begun on social media.

Experts claim that about Rs 4-5000 crore will be paid abroad, from party supporters in the US, UK and Europe, but online campaigns will be directed at audiences and viewers in India.

A pro-BJP group in the US is creating about 500 new Facebook pages, 1000 Twitter accounts and about a 200-odd “news” websites, to peddle BJP  fare and propaganda to the masses which will targeted and directed at Indian viewers. Another similar group based in Canada is working in the same direction.

The BJP and its arms will employ about 7 lakh professionals pan-India to run its online campaigns, social media promotions and other related work like online poster and artwork design, etc., over the next 12 months. In the two months prior to the election, at least 10 lakh professionals will be employed full-time all over India in a massive digital war. An additional 20 lakh free-lancers and party workers will support this 7 lakh-plus digital army throughout the year.

Also Read: BJP hires more than 5000 IT professionals for final Karnataka Election salvo

2014 Figures

According to an article published in the Hindustan Times dated 20th April 2014, Media buyers and sources close to the BJP’s campaign said the party could end up spending about Rs 5,000 crore by May 12,2014, when the last phase of polling takes place. Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World, which is handling the BJP’s media planning, refused to say anything beyond “we are moving as per the approved plan”. This was in 2014, when the Modi wave was at its peak. This time in 2019, the BJP is much richer, much stronger and more desperate to win and will go all out to ensure a resounding majority like it got in 2014.

But a veteran media planner, who is working closely with the BJP, told HT on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media: “Planned spends on all media, including print, television, outdoor, internet and radio would be close to Rs 4,500 crore. The party has set aside an additional Rs 500 crore, which will be used, based on need, to beef up the campaign in critical constituencies and states in the last few days of campaigning.” This is on record and the figures quoted are from industry experts. It does not include the local spend by MPs and their supporters as well as third party sympathizers and “well-wishers”.

According to an article in The Hindu dated 19th April 2014, Anand Sharma, former Union Commerce Minister in UPA 2,  was quoted as saying, “The use of money and resources by the BJP in these elections is unprecedented. At least Rs. 10,000 crore is being spent by the party to project only one person.

On TV, the BJP bought about 2,000 spots a day across Hindi, English and regional news, general entertainment and sports channels. A spot in most popular entertainment channels cost about Rs 80,000 per 30 seconds. The budget: Rs 800-1,000 crore. It spent another Rs 150 crore during the T20 World Cup. The online and radio budget is about Rs 35 crore, the same HT article dated 20th April 2014 had claimed. Asked to comment on its ad budget, a senior BJP leader said, “The expenditure would be about Rs 700-750 crore.”

“The BJP’s spending is at least four times that of the Congress,” said Santosh Sood, former COO, Rediffusion Y&R, a media buying agency. This time in 2019, it is expected to be 6 to 8 times that of the Congress, senior politicians claim.

Government & Election Commission Spending in 2014

According to a PTI report dated 16th March 2014, the projected expenditure to elect the 16th Lok Sabha is set to rival the USD seven billion (approximately Rs. 42,000 crore) spent by candidates and parties in the 2012 US presidential elections.

A study carried out by Centre for Media Studies on poll spendings says “unaccounted for” money pumped in by “crorepati” candidates, corporates and contractors has pushed up the expenditure to elect 543 MPs.

Out of the estimated Rs. 30,000 crore, the exchequer will spend Rs. 7000 to Rs. 8000 crore to hold the electoral exercise for the 16th Lok Sabha.

While the Election Commission is likely to spend around Rs. 3,500 crore, the Union Home Ministry, Indian Railways, various other government agencies and state governments will spend a similar amount to put in place means to ensure free and fair poll. In 2019, the figure is likely to go up by at least 25 per cent.

According to an article in FirstPost dated 5th March 2014,  BJP and Congress are planning to spend Rs 400-500 crore on an ad blitz, and the parties organisations could end up spending another Rs 500-1,000  crore for other forms of campaign-related expenses – banners, hoardings, organisation of public meetings, transport of key campaigners by helicopter or chartered flights, etc. Assuming the smaller regional parties together spend as much as the Congress and BJP put together, we are talking of total party spends in the region of Rs 2,000-4,000 crore.

Add the candidate spends,  and general election 2014 will cost anywhere from Rs 10,145 crore to Rs 17,000 crore for the parties. Add the Election Commission’s own expenses and the cost of deploying forces to ensure a free and fair poll, we should be looking at a total democracy cost of anywhere from Rs 11,000-18,000. In 2019, experts estimate the total expenses of Lok Sabha 2019 to be in the range of Rs 30,000 crore.

Modi Govt Ad Spend in 3.5 Years

The Modi government spent a whopping Rs 3,755 crore on its publicity in three-and-a-half years till October this year, a reply to an RTI query has revealed recently.

The expenditure on advertisements from April 2014 to October 2017 on electronic and print media and outdoor publicity is Rs 37,54,06,23,616, according to the reply given by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Again these are official figures. The unofficial figures including monies spent by well-wishers and party friends is almost double this amount.

BJP hires more than 5000 IT professionals pan-India for final Karnataka Election online salvo

The BJP party and its National IT cell has hired over 5000 IT and social media professionals on a pan-India basis for a massive final online salvo against its opponents, particularly the Congress in a run-up to the Karnataka elections.

It must be mentioned here that this additional workforce of over 5000 skilled professionals is in addition to the already existing huge IT team that the BJP party employs and even pays for. For its online and social media campaign for the Karnataka elections, IndiaScoops.com has learnt that the BJP has employed well over 25,000 dedicated IT workers all over India, who are working day and night to promote the BJP ideology, PM Narendra Modi’s initiatives and  and counter the Congress digital offensive.

According to reliable sources in the BJP IT cell, the additional army of  about 5000 workers has started working since the 1st week of May and will continue till 12th May for a period of 10 to 12 days. Most of them (who are not from the State) are working from their own homes, using their own hardware and infrastructure, while about 10 per cent of this workforce is stationed at Election Offices of the various BJP candidates across the State.

Initially, during the last week of April, an over-confident BJP IT team was taken aback with the Congress IT cell’s online blitzkrieg, led by former actress and Congress MP and now Congress IT cell head Divya Spandana aka Ramya. Spandana’s team unleashed a massive volley of digital posts that outsmarted the BJP online.

Stunned by the onslaught, the BJP top brass led by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi decided on the acquisition of an additional, emergency IT work force to supplement and complement the efforts of the existing BJP IT cell.  The new army does not report to the main boss Amit Malviya, but instead follows his footsteps from a discrete distance. In fact, till about a few days ago, Malviya himself was not aware of the existence of a new digital army. Modi and Shah wanted the new army to work completely independent of Malviya’s team and do their own work, silently and secretly.

The techies are being paid Rs 1500 to Rs 3500 per day, depending on their capability and hours of work. Super professionals or online campaign managers who are tasked with the job of motivating and co-ordinating with others in their teams are being paid Rs 5000 per day. Each individual is expected to work a minimum of 8 to 10 hours per day from home using his or her own laptop (or computer) and internet connection. There are at least 200 new Photoshop experts who are tasked with the job of creating digital memes and digital posters or designs praising the work of the BJP government in states where it is in power.

This army of digital professionals creates new, fake Facebook IDs, Pages, Groups and Twitter handles and share the posts and tweets emanating from official BJP sources and IT cell members. Each member has also been tasked with the job of creating a fake Facebook and Twitter ID and roping in friends (and friends of friends)  from his/her own friend list and then anonymously influencing them using digital tools, to vote for the BJP.

With the Karnataka Assembly elections just days away, on 12 May, the election campaigns of various political parties have gained momentum in the state and all parties are leaving no stone upturned to win the race.

The state is crucial for the Congress as Karnataka is one of the party’s last bastions. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is vying for a comeback in the state after it was defeated by the Congress in the 2013 Assembly elections in Karnataka. Faced with dwindling prospects in Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also eyeing a victory in the upcoming elections in Karnataka.

According to a post in The National Herald (NH), the battle for votes in Karnataka is being fought at many levels. On the ground it is an epic clash between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. In cyberspace a proxy war is waging between the two national parties led by two lesser-known warriors—Amit Malviya and Divya Spandana, the brains behind the social media attack forces of the BJP and the Congress. The sheer ferocity of the online combat is almost incredible. It is almost a non-stop carnage in the sky with unrestrained verbal allegations aimed at influencing the voters, says the NH.

But the Congress is still lagging far behind. The BJP has thousands of workers that outnumber the Congress team several times over. For every one Congress cyber warrior, the BJP has 5. The ratio of Congress to BJP cyber warriors as of today is 1:5.  Maybe, as the BJP is ruling in several States and has huge coffers and almost unlimited funds, it can afford to pay many more workers than the Congress can. But Rahul Gandhi and his core team must somehow find the funds to pay thousands of cyber professionals if he wants to win the cyber war against the BJP. Numbers count. Even if you run paid campaigns on social media, without actual or physical clicks, the campaigns won’t take off.

Unlike campaign rallies on the ground by candidates and leaders, the cyber war may be silent and invisible, but the impact is tangible and undeniable. The novelty factor of virtual world warfare makes it difficult to measure by conventional yardsticks. But the general impression is that the Congress is winning the Twitter war, whereas the BJP is still ahead in the WhatsApp platform.

On Facebook the latest indications are that the Spandana army has gained the upper hand over the Malviya brigade, claims the National Herald. What is really new about the high-tech warfare is that back in 2014 it was one-sided, with the Congress presence on social media virtually non-existent.

But this time is so different that that BJP party bosses are said to be sorely disappointed with Malviya and his team and are even thinking of a major re-staffing after the Karnataka elections to put up a better performance on the road to 2019. Is Malviya going to be kicked out after the Karnataka Elections? Watch this space for more…

BJP IT cell has over 300 members, 20K Facebook pages and 300 fake news portals, claims former member

New Delhi: In a startling revelation, a former BJP IT cell member has claimed that the whole BJP IT cell operates from the BJP head office 24 Ashoka Road, where around 300 people work, who perpetuate the propaganda and add fake content through the fake accounts, which later gets shared through the Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Talking to YouTuber Dhruv Raathi, 27-year-old former IT cell member of BJP, Mahavir, hailing from Rajasthan said he worked in BJP IT Cell from 2012 to 2015, for which he was being paid 30 thousand rupees and facilitated with accommodation, food, travelling expense, internet connection etc.

Further elaborating Mahavir said that BJP spreads the false propaganda through social media to polarize the people, which later converts into the vote bank. He also confessed that he was responsible to spread the false propaganda after which a communal clash happened in Nagor district during 2012.

Mahavir exposed the strategy adopted by BJP IT cell, wherein they create famous fan pages on social media with trending names like ‘I support Indian Army’. A similar account named ‘I support Narendra Modi’  has around 15 million fan following and there are around 20 thousand such pages and over 300 fake news portal operated by the BJP IT cell workers.

According to his claim, the top 150 members of BJP IT cell get an opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister.

On the question regarding his responsibility in the IT Cell, Mahavir said, his main job was to ‘troll’ by adding the controversial terms like ‘Dalit‘, ‘Hindu‘ and ‘Musalman‘ in the content of the news, irrespective of the topic, that would provoke people.

Mahavir said both the Congress and BJP adopt the same policy and own their separate IT cells. “Congress always does the politics of fear; while BJP polarized the people on the basis of religion and caste” he added.

source: muslimmirror.com