Opposition on Thursday attacked the AAP government for reportedly hiking allocation for information and publicity, saying spending public money on “self publicity” amounted to corruption.
“They ( AAP Delhi Government ) have set aside Rs 526 crore just for information and publicity and last year only Rs 24 crore was spent for the same. They have cut budget from various other infrastructure development works and they are spending money on their own party workers and consultants. Is it not a form of corruption by spending more money on self publicity?” and calling it an attempt to “purchase the media” by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) chief Ajay Maken said. “Delhi is not a rich state. Crores of rupees cannot be spent on publicity or for advertisements,” said Maken.
He also took to Twitter and posted: “No money has been spent on infrastructure development, but the government has decided to spend ₹520 crore on publicity. Is it to purchase the media?”
Former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan also criticised government’s move. He alleged that Arvind Kejriwal government’s new FM radio ad was a contempt of court and the issue would soon be brought to the notice of the Supreme Court.
“The TV advertisement brought in by Kejriwal government was in complete violation of the Supreme Court’s order and it amounts to contempt of court. To think that you can do anything by way of radio advertisements because it doesn’t carry a photograph would be total misunderstanding of court’s order. If the radio advertisement is used to publicise and promote a party, government or a political leader, that would be in violation of Supreme Court’s order and it will be soon brought to the notice of the court that this is how political parties are violating the spirit of court’s order,” Bhushan said.
However, the Delhi government’s spokesperson Nagendra Sharma said: “This is the first time the Delhi government has created a head for information and publicity department. So, it is clear that the government has voluntarily allowed itself to be audited.” “Earlier the money spent on advertisements was shown in other expenses,” he added.
According to a senior government official, to connect with people of Delhi, government has released a 70-second long advertisement which is being played on FM radio channels.
In the advertisement, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says that his government has doubled the budget for education and the allocation for health has gone up by 45 per cent. He says his government has the intent to spend money on people’s welfare.
Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia too dismissed the issue and said these are tactics to take the focus off the good work being done by the AAP government.
However, AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who has openly criticised the party leadership on several issues, today trained his guns on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the ad budget allocation.
The move came close on the heels of the Supreme Court banning use of pictures of chief ministers and other political personalities on advertisements, billboards or hoardings of government schemes. The Prime Minister and the President are the only exceptions to the rule.