Campaign for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election that will be held on 21 February will end on Sunday. The battle for the 227 seats of the BMC reached a fever pitch with Mumbai's skyline dotted with hoardings of the rival parties — the BJP and the Shiv Sena, leaving little space for other parties like the Congress, NCP and MNS.
The long-time alliance partners are fighting this BMC election solo. Last week, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis were seen attending rallies and making speeches across Mumbai. From Dahisar to Mahim on the Western Express Highway and from Mulund to Sion on the Eastern Express Highway, campaign hoardings reflect the ongoing tussle for power.
According to the data available with the BMC, the MMRDA, the MSRDC and the PWD Department, there are 3,600 hoardings in the BMC area, 50 percent of which are reserved for companies, corporate clients and for social awareness messages from the government. The remaining space is owned by Bright Outdoor Media, Global Advertisers and three other companies in Mumbai.
A highly placed source from advertising told Firstpost that there are three hoardings of the BJP and two of the Shiv Sena. The BJP have put up more than 200 hoardings in Mumbai, Shiv Sena have over 100 hoardings. The hoardings of the Congress, and the NCP count up to 15, whereas MNS has about 10 hoarding sites, he added.
The charge for a 10 by 40 feet hoarding site is around Rs 2 lakh, the rate comes down if the client wants to keep it for two weeks. In Mumbai, more than Rs 100 crores is spent on hoardings for party publicity. The BJP and the Shiv Sena are also utilising print, television, radio and social media for their campaigns, said a source handling the advertisements of the Shiv Sena.
The hoardings, whether it's the BJP or Shiv Sena, boast of the development works done by the individual parties, while taking potshots at each other.
Two days back, NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that the BJP is spending around Rs 500 crores on hoardings and advertisements in newspapers and television. MNS chief Raj Thackeray too said that within one-km space there are half-a-dozen hoardings of the BJP and Shiv Sena, but where is the money coming from? He alleged that it is money that was amassed from corruption.
A division bench headed by Justice A S Oka of the Bombay High Court recently directed the BMC to remove all hoardings, banners and advertisements put up illegally by parties or their members and initiate action against them.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Janhit Manch alleging alleging that political parties and their members put up illegal hoardings, banners and posters in complete violation of civic rules all over the state, defacing private and public properties and spaces.
"There are more than 10 places where there are back to back hoardings of the BJP and the Shiv Sena. It looks funny to see such hoardings after every five metres," said Sameer Kotecha, who travels daily from Andheri to Nariman Point.
Nobody from the Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress, MNS and NCP leader were willing to comment on the amount spent on advertisements.
Updated Date: Feb 18, 2017 19:37 PM