As elections near, socialist chief minister not averse to social media splash

Pvt firms hired to promote Siddaramaiah, his govt's programmes

As elections near, socialist chief minister not averse to social media splash
The Siddaramaiah government has become active when it comes to marketing itself to people through advertisements and the social media. With the Assembly elections just a year away, the government is trying to maximise its efforts in talking about its schemes and programmes, online and offline.

Siddaramaiah, who holds both the finance and information portfolios, has taken a quantum leap in allocating funds to the Department of Information and Public Relations, for the coming financial year. He has allocated a record Rs 283 crore, nearly Rs 128 crore more than the current year. Of the total allocation, Rs 100 crore to 120 crore will be spent on publicity, interaction and educative programmes and for online activities. In the previous years, the allocation had not crossed Rs 100 crore, except in 2016-17, when it was Rs 155.78 crore. 
 
Socialist Siddaramaiah is no more shy of or oblivious to using social media to promote himself and his programmes, in a bid to fight anti-incumbency. He has two separate agencies to keep himself and his government active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The Information Department is managing its social media platforms through ObjectOne Information Systems Limited, Hyderabad. The same agency manages online activities of the Press Information Bureau, New Delhi. The content, which goes under the banner – Karnataka Varthe – is created by the department. It has been functioning for the last two years from the department premises in Bengaluru. It is operating in a studio-like office where social media icons are colourfully displayed. Another agency is Adosphere Branding, which is hired by the chief minister’s office (CMO). The content is monitored by the staff of the CMO.

The combined strength of the two social media teams is around 12 and the monthly salary bills are about Rs 12 lakh. While Siddaramaiah’a twitter handle @CMofKarnataka has just 1.05 lakh followers, Karnataka Varthe fb page has 53,000 members. None of the platforms is interactive. No hashtags are used. The content is almost similar in all e-platforms. In his image makeover exercise, Siddaramaiah’s reach-all programme includes the recently established dashboard - Pratibimb. This website is supposed to showcase the progress reports of all departments.

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