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This election season in Gujarat is like none other in past

This election season in the western state of Gujarat has brought new innovations to campaigning. A range of communication tools, from short message service (SMS) and Internet to propaganda CDs are being used for the first time to convince voters.

The stakes are extremely high for both the Hindu right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the secular parties like Congress and some smaller parties. The stakes are less than the future of Indian polity and the question whether India would remain a secular state or would become a Hindu fascist state.

Traditional methods like posters and handbills, street plays and door-to-door canvassing too are being employed.

Backroom boys in both the large parties BJP and Congress are devising strategies of campaign. They are working with advertisers and communication companies to finetune the campaign.

Candidates are making use of cellular phones as it has reached the middle class now. Short message service on cell phones is being used by BJP with a picture of chief minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress has been telecampaigning and also using hot air balloons to carry their electoral message. A Congress functionary said in Ahmedabad earlier this week that they were using telecampaigning to reach distant villages.

Campaign literature like posters, banners and hoardings have been designed by professional designers and are being distributed.

The Gujarat unit of Congress party is also to launch a web site, which will "host the list and profile of the Congress candidates, receive complaints and arrange chats with more active voters."

Congress party has also produced two documentaries highlighting the condition of Gujarat. Directed by famous film maker Joseph Valkuzi, one of these documentary films is about the aggravation of law and order in the state because of maladministration.

A Congress official said they would telecast these documentaries "subject to the approval of the Election Commission."

Several advertising and marketing companies are out to make a big earning in the election season as selling election agenda to voters is getting more and more specialised.

Even image consultants have got a windfall as both the major parties, Congress and the BJP, have hired them to look more "electable" to a wary public.

MG News Desk 

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