The BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka are leaving no stone unturned or rupee unspent to apparently convince their people, and Indians elsewhere for some reason, how “well” they have contained the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, they paid for fullpage ads in national dailies containing faces of chief ministers Adityanath, BS Yediyurappa and prime minister Narendra Modi.
The ads in the Hindu, Economic Times and New Indian Express extolled their own efforts to contain Covid and made many a boastful claim.
In a “joint initiative” with sister publication Times of India, the Economic Times ran boastful, full-page advertorials on its first two pages. The front page, a barely disguised advertorial, has equal-sized pictures of Modi and Adityanath, along with Uttar Pradesh’s “five-step plan” to defeat Covid. And since it seems custom for the BJP to praise the prime minister every chance they get, Adityanath gave a shoutout in his taxpayer-paid ad to Modi’s “compassionate leadership” for providing “free vaccines”.
It is the second page of the advertorial, however, which is worth a closer examination. It’s designed almost exactly like a news page, with only a tiny, missable “consumer connect initiative” label at the bottom indicating that it’s an ad. The advertorial has “UP fights corona” in place of the paper’s masthead, with “Yogi govt’s multipronged strategy bears results” right under it. The headline for the lead “story” is “State’s pandemic control model a hit”, even though Uttar Pradesh was one of the during the second wave.
“The state of Uttar Pradesh is in the news for all the right reasons,” the lead “story” begins, though the reality is far from it. Just this week, the state made news for in an FIR and for a cop as anti-riot gear.
Down south, the Hindu splashed an ad across page 3 about “Karnataka on Recovery Road.” Yediyurappa appears in five out of six pictures featured in the five “stories”. One of the stories is about how “hundreds of frontline workers in Karnataka have had the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with the CM”, which has boosted morale and lent a “personal touch” to the fight against Covid.
The New Indian Express ran a full-page on “Karnataka’s packages of hope” and how the state is “Conquering the Waves” on page 3 of its Bangalore edition and page 12 of its Hubbali edition. With a random quote from American novelist Louis L’amour, it said the Yediyurappa government was fighting against all odds, “staring at opposition”, and having hope to make us see light when it was dark.
The Karnataka government paid for a similar ad in the Deccan Herald on Thursday, with stories about how Yediyurappa had “succeeded” in containing the spread of Covid.