It is well known that both Delhi and Maharashtra were the worst performers amid the Covid-19 Pandemic situation with the most number of cases in both states. However, the irony reveals how, after Kejriwal, even Uddhav Thackeray’s government has spent hundreds of crores on publicity campaigns.
As Maharashtra was witnessing a huge surge in the Covid cases, the Uddhav government has spent Rs. 155 crores in PR campaign in 16 months, which mostly involved publicity and social media campaigns for its various schemes an RTI query revealed.
Information obtained through the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR) under RTI by activist Anil Galgali has revealed that chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Mahavikas Aghadi Government has spent about Rs 5.99 crore on social media alone and is spending almost Rs 9.6 crore every month on publicity campaigns. Meanwhile, a senior government official justified the expenditure pointing out that to make the benefits of hundreds of government schemes reach the common public, such consistent efforts have to be made.
Social activist, Galgali had filed an RTI demanding details related to various expenditures incurred on the campaigns since the formation of the Mahavikas Aghadi government. In 2020, a total of Rs 104.55 crore were spent on publicity campaigns of 26 different departments. According to Galgali some of the campaign expenditures included Rs 5.96 crore on the occasion of Women’s Day, Rs 19.92 crore on National Health Mission programmes, Rs 6.49 crore on the campaign for Maharashtra Urban Development Mission, Rs 2.25 crore during cyclones and so on. Earlier, the MVA government spent around Rs 20 crore alone on the publicity for its vaccination drives besides a sizable amount for its pet project – the Shiv Bhojan scheme.
In the year 2021, 12 state departments have spent Rs 29.79 crore till March 12, 2021. These departments included the health education department (Rs 15.94 crore) followed by Rs 1.88 crore for Jal Jeevan Mission, Rs 20 lakh by Department of Women and Child Development, Rs 48 lakh by the Minorities Department, and Rs. 45 lakh on social media.
According to Galgali, the figure could be higher as the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations did not have 100 per cent information. In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Galgali has demanded that the government should upload the expenditure incurred at the departmental level, the nature of the expenditure and the name of the beneficiary on the government website.
As extensively reported by the TFI, the capital city New Delhi also had a big fall, thanks to the inefficient handling of the situation by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been allegedly trying to hide his failures by buying the media. RTI shared by one Alok Bhatt, a Twitter user, revealed that Rs 32.52 crore was spent by the Kejriwal government on advertisements in January 2021, Rs 25.33 crore in February 2021, and Rs 92.48 crore in March 2021.
‘Best CM’ Uddhav Thackeray’s Maharashtra government, just like the Kejriwal-led Delhi government, seems to have really done no actual work and has instead focused on PR to make people believe that it is actually governing and developing the state.