Nearly 23 lakh commuters ride on the Delhi Metro every day. Many of them will exercise their franchise in the next month’s Lok Sabha polls. Alongside them rides Narendra Modi on saffron posters with several “enough is enough” messages declaring it time for a “Modi Sarkar”.
When Parveen Gupta of Eg. Communications, the advertising agency to which the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has outsourced its advertisement space, approached political parties to advertise on the trains, it was the Bharatiya Janata Party that grabbed the opportunity with the Congress “still trying to make up its mind”. Mr. Gupta, who had approached the Election Commission of India for permission for political parties to exploit what are commercial sites on the transport system, said that the ads will run till the April 10 polls. “If political advertisements can be put up on bus shelters, uni-poles and wall wraps then why not on the Metro?” he told The Hindu.
Since then, Mr. Modi rides 30 trains, across the extensive Delhi Metro network that criss-crosses the seven parliamentary constituencies in each of which the party has fielded a candidate. Messages are sometimes tailor-made to suit the coach. The reserved coach for women, for instance, has him saying: “Enough of violence against women, now its time for a Modi government” or calling for an end to price-rise. Elsewhere, in a jam-packed coach filled with young men he is seen saying “enough” to unemployment.
There are no signs of the seven BJP candidates on any of these panels and since Mr. Modi is not contesting from the city, this publicity expenditure does not get added to any of the candidate’s election expenditure.
“Since the ads only feature Modi, the expenditure incurred will be added to the political party whose expenditure is not capped,” said an official at the Delhi Election Office.
The ads seen by The Hindu have a single line at the bottom in small print crediting them to the BJP headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road. “According to Section 127A of the RP Act, 1951, every election pamphlet or poster should have on its face the names and addresses of the printer and publishers…otherwise it will be a violation of the Model Code of Conduct” points out the official.
The posters may not have the name or address of the printing press or even pictures of senior party leaders. But it has a picture of a man determined to make Delhi his home.