Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal termed as “wrong” Lt Governor Anil Baijal’s order to recover Rs 97 crore from the AAP for allegedly spending on the advertisements and said it will be challenged in the court. The chief minister’s remark came after Baijal had last month directed Chief Secretary M M Kutty to recover Rs 97 crore from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that was allegedly “splurged” by the Delhi government on advertisements in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines. “The Lt Governor’s order to pay Rs 97 crore is totally wrong. We will challenge the order in the court,” Kejriwal told PTI.
He also sought reasons behind “targeting” of the AAP government. The LG had also ordered an inquiry into the spendings on the advertisements projecting Kejriwal and his party, and asked the the chief secretary to fix responsibility.
“The first logic (behind the LG’s order) was that my government gave advertisements outside Delhi. Several state governments – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – give advertisements in newspapers in Delhi. “Why no such an order for them? Why only my government is being targeted?” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi chief minister said that the second reason given in the LG’s order was that the advertisements carried his photos in violation of the rules. “Photos of chief minister are given in advertisements of a state government, which is not the violation of the Supreme Court’s order,” Kejriwal asserted.
Last year on the direction of the Supreme Court, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had formed a three- member committee, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon, to address issues related to content regulation in government advertising.
In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said that the AAP government had spent Rs 29 crore in releasing advertisements outside Delhi which was “beyond” its responsibility.
The report, tabled in Delhi Assembly on March 10, also said that advertisements worth Rs 24 crore were released by the AAP government in violation of the financial propriety and the Supreme Court regulations. The AAP government had rejected the report.
Asked if the LG office would clear the Delhi government’s proposal to pay Rs 3.42 crore fee to noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, he said if the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) asks the LG, the file would be cleared and the fee paid. A controversy had erupted recently over the government’s proposal to pay the lawyer’s fee from the public exchequer.
The BJP and the Congress had slammed Kejriwal on the issue, saying he should pay the lawyer’s fee in his individual capacity. Jethmalani has been representing Kejriwal in a defamation case filed against him by Union Minister Arun Jaitley.