JAIPUR: The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan is looking for a makeover and has engaged a national public relations agency for brand building.
The private agency has been hired a year after the Congress formed the government in the desert state to counter negative publicity in the public space and also to influence opinions by disseminating positive stories about the government.
The firm's contract started from February 1, official sources confirmed, adding that the bidding process to hire the PR firm started in November last year. The agency has been hired for two years, with state Bureau of Investment Promotion (BIP) acting as the nodal agency in the hiring process.
Though the state machinery has Public Relations Department officials at its disposal to showcase government achievements and actions, the Gehlot dispensation still decided to spend a huge amount of money on public relations despite the state's severe fund crisis, said a senior Congress worker.
The PR agency will work to streamline interviews with the Chief Minister and his Ministers to disseminate all positive stories to give the state government a facelift.
BJP state president Satish Poonia told IANS: "The Congress government has such terrible work record that the PR agency can't help it get a makeover. Look at the increasing lawlessness in the state -- rising crime rate and pathetic state of all schemes. People are closely watching what they are doing. The PR agency can't save them from facing the people's wrath."
The earlier BJP government too had hired a PR firm, but for the 'Resurgent Rajasthan' campaign to attract investments to the state. The PR firm was hired for 21 months, with three agency representatives allowed on the BIP.
But now, as many as eight representatives from the PR agency will be put on the BIP to bring out success stories from different state government departments.
"We are waiting for the work to begin so as to see what the end results are," said one of the persons who had bid for the contract. He claimed that there was a catch in the story.
"The PR agency bid for Rs 1 crore per month. It has now been asked to deploy eight persons to bring out the state's success stories, which is a tough challenge for the agency at such monthly remuneration. It's a surprise that the government failed to hire the right agency with the right approach to come out with its success stories," he added.
Meanwhile, a private player working with the Gehlot government for years is surprised at the change in his working style.
"The Chief Minister has never gone for PR stunts. But these days, he is seen in schools, colleges, sports events and many similar occasions. In fact, he is also seen raising social issues like asking for a 'ghoonghat' (veil) ban, and an end to use of black money in politics.
"Seems like he is trying to go the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi way," he remarked.