Bihar candidates ride Nepal radio waves

By Imran Khan, IANS
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PATNA - Never mind if they are riding foreign radio waves. Dozens of candidates in the Bihar assembly polls are finding the FM radio stations of neighbouring Nepal quite handy in wooing voters.

Nearly half a dozen Nepal FM radio stations are airing advertisments by candidates in Madhepura, Supaul, Madhubani, Kishanganj, Araria, Sheohar, Saharsa, Muzaffarpur, and East and West Champaran districts.

Candidates cutting across party lines have opted this medium.

A ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader told IANS on condition of anonymity that there are no such homegrown FM radio stations in Bihar’s bordering districts, so they have little choice.

“We have no option but to use the services of Nepali FM radio stations to reach out to our voters,” he said. He said a campaign advertisement of 40 seconds costs Rs.3,000-4,000 for 12 insertions.

Nepal FM stations like Jaleshwarnath FM from Jaleswar, Rajdevi FM 93.2 from Gaur Baxzar, Radio Mithila, Madhesi Radio, Radio Today and Janakpur Radio from Janakpur are beaming advertisements in favour Bihar candidates, said a senior police officer posted near the Nepal border.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Madhubani said FM radio stations operating in Nepal were a cheap medium for electioneering. “These FM radio stations have wider reach among people in the districts bordering Nepal.”

Most of Bihar’s districts bordering Nepal are going to the polls in the first four phases starting Thursday and ending Nov 1. The remaining two phases will be over by Nov 20.

“Since campaigning is the real backbone of the polls, candidates have been using FM radio stations operating in Nepal for it,” said Ranjeev, a social activist working in a Bihar district bordering Nepal.

He said these private stations of Nepal are very popular among people in small towns and rural areas along the 750-km India-Nepal border in the state.

Election Commission officials have not taken kindly to candidates using the Nepali air waves.

A district official in Kishanganj said the poll panel had taken serious note of the development. It has decided to hold dialogue with the union information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry to restrict Nepal from airing poll advertisements on FM radio.

The 47 constituencies in Bihar’s flood-prone belts will go to polls in the first round of elections Thursday. About 10.6 million voters will decide the fate of 635 candidates in the fray for the first lot of the 243 assembly seats.

Filed under: Politics

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