Pinarayi engages Yogi's PR agency for social media campaign

Thiruvananthapuram: A series of unsavoury controversies has dented the image of the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala. In a bid to present itself in a good light in the run-up to next month's Assembly Election, the Pinarayi Vijayan administration has inked a Rs 1.5 crore contract for carrying out a social media campaign on its achievements.

Interestingly, the PR agency entrusted with the Kerala government's brief was the one engaged by the BJP state government in Uttar Pradesh last year to spruce up its image after the shocking rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Hathras.

The Public Relations Department of Kerala has engaged Mumbai-based Concept Communications as its digital media creative agency through a tender process.

The agency has been entrusted with the responsibility of improving and enhancing the image of the government through social media. The government hurriedly issued the order on February 26, the day when the election model code of conduct came into being.

The Centre for Development of Imaging Technology or C-DIT had submitted a project worth Rs 26.52 lakh for giving ads on social media including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram for publicising and highlighting the achievements of the Kerala government. Of this amount, the government has already given administrative sanction for Rs 13.26 lakh.

Earlier, the contract for the digital employment platform announced in the state budget was also given to Concept Communications. It was earlier alleged the same PR agency had tried to inflate the number of Twitter followers for the scheme by using fake profiles. It was found 95 per cent of the 321 followers in the early phase were fake. The agency subsequently dropped these profiles.

Spin on Hathras shocker

The Hathras incident had embarrassed the Yogi administration to such an extent that it desperately tried to minimise the political backlash over it. The police action of hurriedly cremating the girl's body in the wee hours without even giving an opportunity to the family to perform the last rites was widely panned. Concept Communications came to the rescue of the UP government and unusually tried to justify the police move.

The agency even issued a statement to the national media on October 1, 2020, stating that the forensic examination report and the preliminary medical report had revealed that the murdered Hathras Dalit girl was not sexually assaulted. Several media persons had criticised the statement.

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