The battle of newspaper advertisements between Tamil Nadu's two main parties and their allies continued this morning, with both the DMK and the governing AIADMK taking out full-page ads in leading newspapers. The AIADMK is in alliance with the BJP this election.
A day before the state votes on April 6, the DMK's ad in the Times of India urged voters to "save the entire civilisation" by voting for them, and promising that the DMK will speak out against "abhorrent laws" against interfaith marriages - a reference to the BJP's "love jihad" laws enacted in various states governed by the saffron party.
"This is the day of the resurrection of our identity and self-respect," the ad said.
In the Hindu, the AIADMK produced a questionnaire to ask voters to contemplate the "right choice" to lead the state. (Spoiler alert: The answer to all its questions is purportedly the AIADMK.)
Today's advertisements are a culmination of a long war being waged in the print media. On Sunday, the English edition of the Hindu included four pages of "news stories" in Tamil under the newspaper's own masthead. The stories were a compendium of reports on the DMK's corruption over the last few years.
Only a small inset on Page 4 indicated that it was an advertisement for the AIADMK (the box in red, in case you missed it).
The lack of a clear disclosure or disclaimer that this was, in fact, an advertisement led the newspaper's former editor Malini Parthasarathy to defend it on Twitter. "Nothing to dramatise or bemoan here!" she said.
On its part, the DMK on April 1 took out full-page ads on the front pages of newspapers showing prime minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam "dreaming" of various controversial events involving the AIADMK and the BJP: the Thoothukudi firing following the anti-Sterlite protests, the NEET controversy, the BJP's cow protection policies, and more.
These are "the dreams of the fascists and their slaves," the ad said. "Let's wake up to end this nightmare. Vote for the Rising Sun."
On the same day, the BJP took out an ad in the New Indian Express with the slogan, "Reject selfishness, choose selflessness."
Both alliances have also been sparring in the online space, hiring consultants, fighting meme wars, and roping in lakhs of party workers to gain an advantage.