And what does
Nepal have to do with the democratic exercise in
as such? Nothing. But its 104 FM radio channels do, as Bihar has several
constituencies bordering India
and these radio channels can be heard there. Nepal
Valmikinagar, West Champaran,
East Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Sheohar and
Sitamarhi are being bombarded with political messages from across the border. The
sloganeering on Modi is followed by one on the RJD and the Congress, as
candidates of some 14 constituencies along the 750-km Bihar-Nepal border vie
It works out cheaper too. For every 100 in Indian rupees, publicity worth 170 in Nepalese currency is assured.
Rajdevi and Indrani FM channels are among the most popular for their views on Indian politics and politicians. They offer multiple language packages, too. So it is Bhojpuri for Champaran, Vajjika for Tirhut and Maithili besides Hindi and English for other areas.
Nepalese FM radio stations have gained in prominence due to the absence of competing Indian FM radio stations along the border. Over the years, Jaleshwar FM, Rajdevi FM of Gaur Market, Radio Mithila, Madhesi Radio, Radio Today, Janakpur Radio, Garhi Mai radio, Bhojpuri Radio, Sanskar Radio, Sanskriti Radio, Narayani FM and Radio Birgunj have gained popularity in Indian villages.
“FM stations in
popular Bollywood and Bhojpuri songs and are very interactive, that is why they
are popular in border areas. Local merchants and clothiers too air their
advertisement through them,” said advocate Janak Singh, who lives in Raxaul, from
where the Nepalese town of Nepal
is barely half a kilometre away. Birgunj
Ram Singh Yadav, a shopkeeper in
opposite Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, says he
regularly tunes in to Nepalese FM radio stations to compare prices on either
side of the border to book profit.
With the EC fixing the maximum poll expenses at Rs. 70 lakh, many independent candidates have found Nepal FMs to be a cheaper way out. “It worked out to our advantage, even in areas which were not accessible otherwise,” said Manoj Paswan of the RJD in Motihari.
In last assembly polls, the EC had shown its annoyance over poll campaigning from across the border and asked information and broadcasting ministry to coordinate with Nepali authorities to restrict FM operators from airing propaganda in favour of candidates.
To their credit, Nepali authorities requested all FMs stations along the border to stop beaming such messages, but there is no law that can bar them from favouring candidates.
Source: Hindustan Times