Ankur Jain | TNN
Ahmedabad: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s pre-election media plans have hit a roadblock with the Election Commission of India on Friday ordering blackout of ‘NaMo Gujarat’ cable network as it did not have required clearances. While efforts are on to bring the cable network back to life, the development could have far-reaching consequences for the propaganda machinery in the run up to the assembly polls.
Modi’s media managers tried to circumvent the EC’s expenditure guidelines by having private limited companies launched to promote him on different platforms. At least two companies were launched in the past six months in an outsourcing strategy which also circumvents the EC guidelines on ‘paid news’.
These companies are mandated to handle cable network, online campaign and outdoor publicity for Modi, who, as a candidate, will have a spending cap of Rs 16 lakh. The said companies are now said to be under the EC scanner and their ventures can go on air only if the ECI agrees.
The company behind ‘Na-Mo Gujarat’ is the newly-floated New Hope Infotainment Pvt Ltd, which has homeopath Sujay Jyotindra Mehta and agriculture equipment dealer Sanjay Rasiklal Shah at the helm. Its registered office is Mehta’s clinic in Vastrapur but operates out of Prahladnagar.
After repeated attempts, the reluctant duo agreed that they are directors of the company. “I can’t share details of the work. The channel will showcase work done in Gujarat during the last 10 years,” said Mehta.
When asked about the funding and their role as well as experience in handling media campaigns, he did not respond.
Another company, Corenti Innovations Private Limited, also based out of Prahladnagar, is involved in promotion of Modi. The company has ‘Friends of BJP’ convener Rajesh Jain of Mumbai, UK-based solicitor Manoj Ladwa, a former president of ‘Overseas Friends Of BJP’ as directors, alongwith Ahmedabad-duo Reena Shah and Hemang Jani. Jani was actively involved in Modi’s unsuccessful web campaign to promote him for ‘Mashable Awards 2011’ for ‘Must-Follow Politician on Social Media’ where he got more negative votes than positive.
While these are the faces, the real backroom boys are Modi’s close confidante Parindu Bhagat, popularly known as Kakubhai, his son Maulik and Parag Shah, a former CMO employee. Maulik also runs several on-line initiatives including namoleague.com for Modi.