Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Pro-Modi" consultant APCO Worldwide behind NDTV India giving clear majority to NDA, alleges top scribe

By Our Representative
In a major critique of top channel NDTV India, well-known scribe Seema Mustafa has alleged that the top channel gave 230 seats to the BJP and majority to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as part of an international consultant’s effort to promote BJP's Prime Ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi. Writing in thecitizen.in, she has said, “The recent poll by NDTV giving 230 seats to the BJP and a full majority to the NDA was conducted by Hansa Public Relations, whose former CEO Tushar Panchal is currently head of Services to Government practice for APCO Worldwide", which is “widely credited for not just creating and pushing the Vibrant Gujarat project but also promoting and marketing brand Modi.”
Mustafa says, “Tushar Panchal joined APCO worldwide in 2011 straight from a two year stint as CEO in Hansa Public Relations which is part of the RK Swamy Hansa Group, crediting itself with ‘an exceptional track record of helping build clients businesses’ as a ‘leading advertising and marketing services organisation’.” She underlines, the opinion poll on NDTV is nothing but a clear example of “a system where the effort of stakeholders has become to manage consent, and propagate it through the media as national consensus.”
Quoting APCO Worldwide website, Mustafa says, Panchal is now currently in the position of senior director in on the consultant’s board and “manages key relationships with various state governments across the country”, and the website describes him as “one of the few communication consultants in the country today, who can provide 360 degree communication and branding solution to governments and heads of states.”
Giving his background, Mustafa says, Panchal was largely educated in Gujarat, completing Business Administration in Marketing from MS University in Vadodara. “He did his MDP in Business Management, from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and now has 19 solid years of experience behind him in well known companies”, the scribe added.
“Hansa Public Relations shot into media prominence just recently with the poll that has surpassed most others by giving the BJP and Narendra Modi a good 230 seats in these elections. This is still being discussed in Delhi’s drawing rooms, as it has upped the ante significantly for Modi and the BJP projecting them in the seat of power even before half of India has voted in these elections. Hansa and NDTV join a series of polls on Indian television steadily increasing the numbers for Modi in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls”, Mustafa has contended.
Seema Mustafa
“APCO Worldwide”, Mustafa recalls, “is a high powered company that has played an influential role, from all accounts, across the world in shaping destinies and political outcomes. It has a virtual who’s who list of consultants with the Indian presence being marked by former foreign secretary who was also the ambassador to the US after retirement Lalit Mansingh."
She adds, "Mansingh is on its International Advisory Council. In what is seen as a related and even more high powered appointment directed at the Indian market is the appointment of former US ambassador to India Tim Roemer as APCO’s Cice President. He is assigned to APCO’s Global Political strategies and international advisory council groups.”

APCO praise for UPA

Mustafa’s allegations have come, ironically, close on the heels of APCO Worldwide eulogising the UPA’s economic performance on its website: “After a series of significant policy changes starting in 1991, India today is a trillion-dollar market with an enviable rate of GDP growth.” It said, “Today, India plays an increasingly important role in global geopolitics — not only as the world's largest democracy, but also as an economic powerhouse that is coming into its own.”
It underlined, “India's economy is fueled by the combination of a large services sector, a strong and diversified manufacturing base and a significant agricultural sector that continues to provide a framework for the growth of the domestic economy. The country's resilience in weathering the recent global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead.”
Noting this change, a UK-based scholar and activist Rohini Hensman has observed in a recent commentary, “The Gujarat Model of Development: What would it do the Indian Economy?”: “This is a very different picture from the constant BJP blitzkrieg blaring the allegation that the UPA has made a mess of India’s economy.” It points out, “Given that APCO is the public relations firm hired by the state government of Gujarat from 2009 to 2013 at a reported cost of $ 25,000 a month to promote Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat, it can hardly be accused of pro-Congress bias.”
Not just this. APCO Worldwide has gone so far as to deny that it has been part of the Modi bandwagon. Insisting that “APCO is a non-partisan, global communication, business strategy and stakeholder engagement firm that works with a significant number of global corporations, governments and leading nonprofit organizations in India and around the world”, it does not deny that “APCO was one of the strategic partners of the Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb) of the Government of Gujarat, working to promote the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Summit and to position Gujarat as a global investment destination.”
However, it points out, “The firm’s contract with the government concluded at the end of March 2013, and currently we have no working relationship with the Government of Gujarat.” Currently, it says, “APCO does not work on behalf of Chief Minister Modi. APCO is not involved in any media activities relating to the rescue efforts of pilgrims, tourists and residents in Uttarkhand in the wake of last week’s tragic flash floods. APCO has never worked to obtain a US visa for Chief Minister Modi.”

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