The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has reported hired the services of a professional help for image building and media management.
The Delhi government has appointed Public Relations firm Perfect Relations as its “media consultant.” The firm has already started set the wheels in motion by sending out media releases to news organisations.
ANI quoted Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s media advisor, Arunodya Prakash, as confirming the news.
Two men who founded Perfect Relations in 1992 in Delhi are image consultants and media commentators Dilip Cherian and Bobby Kewalramani.
The cost of hiring the consultant, according to ANI, will be met from within the Rs. 200 crore allocations for the department in the 2016-17 budget.
But some sources said that annual fee could be around Rs 2 crore annually. Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia said that the reports of Rs 200 crore for the PR firm were not true. He, however, did not specify the exact budget allocated for this purpose.
This includes money already spent and to be spent on advertisements this fiscal.
There has, however, been no official confirmation in this regard from the PR agency.
The AAP Government had last year set aside Rs. 526 crore for information and publicity in the 2015-16 budget, drawing severe criticism from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress.
Earlier, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had criticised the AAP government, saying the government was using advertising funds to manipulate the media.
“While ‘friendly’ media is being given advertisements, media houses which are critical of the AAP government are being denied ad revenue,” Jailtey had said in an interview.
Last year, ‘Shabdarth’ an internal ad release agency was set up by the Delhi government to take over the process of releasing advertisements through private agencies.
The services provided by the firm will be in addition to the posse of media advisors Kejriwal has already employed both in the party and in the government.
The party has received flak from its detractors for splashing crores of rupees on self publicity in the past.
AAP is one of the few parties to have employed considerably high number of media advisors. The party has successfully used the social media tools to convey its messages and policies to its constituents in the past.
However, since forming the government in February, the party has adopted aggressive approach in relying on paid advertisements in multimedia news platforms to highlight what it said have been its achievements.
The Delhi government had earmarked a whopping Rs 526 crore on advertisement last year.