The Delhi government has spent Rs 14.5 crore on just advertisements, published in newspapers between February 10 and May 10, reveals an RTI filed by the Congress.
Advocate Aman Panwar, legal affairs in-charge of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, said “This means the AAP government is spending Rs 16 lakh a day on newspaper ads, in and outside Delhi.” Panwar filed the RTI on behalf of the Congress.
Reacting to the RTI, Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley Monday said excessive publicity has become a tool of “political bribery” and underlined the need to tackle the “big menace” of paid news.
Meanwhile, AAP Monday alleged that “somebody had lied” about the government having spent Rs 526 crore on advertisements. “Last year’s budget has been placed before the assembly and the government has not even spent Rs 80 crore on advertisements. Every penny spent is accounted for. These are frustrated people who first tried to mislead the court and are now misleading the media,” said a government official.
The Congress also questioned the justification of “outstation ads” being published by the government. “Outstation ads in Kerala, Bangalore and Chennai are not of concern to the people of Delhi, nor are they of any benefit to the people of those towns and cities,” said the party.
The Delhi government official, however, said governments of other states also issue advertisements in Delhi newspapers.
Panwar also said, “In the said RTI, we had sought details of public funds spent by AAP in television, radio, hoardings/banners and newspapers. However, the Delhi government is yet to specify the amount spent on television, radio ads and publicity hoardings. As per our calculations, in just three months, Kejriwal has spent approximately Rs 100 crore on all forms of advertisements.”
He added, “The limited information given by the government on the RTI query reveals that the Kejriwal government has been wasting huge sums of taxpayer’s money on self-glorification and misleading advertisements.”
The Congress also argued that on one hand, Kejriwal does not have money to pay salaries of sanitation workers, or provide pensions to the elderly and widows, and yet is “splurging public wealth on self-promotion and self-publicity”.