As expected, AAP blames BJP for CAG’s report about Delhi government’s unnecessary expenditure on ads.
Manish Sisodia was given charge of multiple ministries in AAP’s first Delhi government between December 2013 and February 2014. After taking over as a minister, Sisodia attracted a lot of ire when he shifted to Mayur Vihar’s phase-2, pocket-B and spent between five to seven lakh rupees on the renovation of the two flats owned by Delhi government. He stayed in the first one with family while the second one was converted to an office for him. At that point, the minister claimed that he wanted to spend more time at the office to help the public, thus, selected both properties and got them renovated.
Anyway, this was just the beginning, probably the first incident showcasing how AAP was planning to spend public money unnecessarily. Kejriwal and his comrades have wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money since then.
A good political commentator can easily write a book based on lies and u-turns taken by Delhi’s CM Arvind Kejriwal on various issues. Some Delhiites really appreciate that besides criticizing Prime Minister Modi and blaming him for almost every possible issue in the world, their CM also finds time to write movie reviews and campaign for his party in Punjab. Now, Kejriwal government is under the lens for its expenditure on television, radio, and newspaper ads. Like most of the columns about Kejriwal, details in this one are entertaining enough to make sure that you remain away from boredom.
CAG hits out at AAP
Let’s keep the complicated accounting stuff away for experts and look at this issue from common man’s point of view.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) recently released its report about AAP government’s expenditure on ads. According to the Indian Express’s story, the CAG report clearly pointed out that the government increased its spending on ads from Rs 25.25 crore (for 2013-14) to Rs 114.21 crore, including pending liabilities (for 2015-16).
B S Chauhan is CAG’s media advisor. He recently interacted with journalists and shared the information that the concerned report was submitted to LG and Delhi’s principal secretary for finance on 22nd August.
CAG’s report suggests that around 85 percent of the amount from Rs 33.40 crore spent on certain publicity campaigns was used for publishing advertisements in areas outside Delhi. This is clearly not acceptable as per guidelines set by the Honorable Supreme Court. It is also not in line with fundamental principles governing expenditure from taxpayers’ money.
Government ads should not be used for glorifying politicians according to Supreme Court guidelines. The CAG has criticized Aam Admi Party government for using the term “Kejriwal Sarkar” and AAP symbol in various ads released by Delhi government.
As per CAG, on 12th February 2016, Delhi government issued an order to publish two pages full of stories glorifying AAP government in 37 regional newspapers from various states and 26 national newspapers. These stories were published in the concerned newspapers on 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th February 2016.
Seven special jingles were created and aired on seven FM stations. Nine clips were telecast on 89 television channels, including regional channels from various states.
The agency pointed out that some of Delhi government’s advertisements show the Delhi police and central government in a negative light. This is also against SC’s guidelines, as government ads need to be politically neutral.
Initially, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia did not even accept the presence of any such report from CAG, when asked about the same by BJP MLA Vijender Gupta in the Assembly. Later, in his bizarre justification, Delhi’s deputy chief minister said the opposition lacks knowledge about communication and does not know radio and TV ads as he does.
“We use advertisements to communicate with people. I have worked with radio, TV industry, and they do not understand the way communication industry works. CAG should also audit details about money spent by central government on advertisements,”-said Sisodia.
BJP’s comments on the issue
Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay and leader of opposition Vijender Gupta recently interacted with journalists. They have urged Kejriwal government to make the CAG report public so that people would be able to understand how public funds are being misused in Delhi. They also claimed that AAP was intentionally avoiding talking about the report in public and was not willing to table the report in Assembly to debate on the same.
Shoot the messenger
After giving bizarre justification, and claiming that Vijender Gupta’s political masters are behind CAG’s report, AAP leaders have urged House Privilege Committee to take action against Gupta for allegedly leaking CAG’s report to journalists.