By Sidhartha Dutta
The BJP-led union government, which attacked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for its spending on advertisements, itself spent more than Rs 36 crore on publicity and advertisements for its two-year anniversary programme.
According to information revealed in response to an RTI query by IANS, the government spent Rs 36 crore on advertisements in print and electronic media for publicising its one-day "Ek Nayi Subah" show at India Gate in Delhi, organised to mark two years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
The RTI reply received from the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, revealed that the amount spent by the centre on publicity was Rs 36,64,88,085.
The expenditure incurred on advertisements in print media was Rs 35.59 crore while in the electronic media it was Rs 1.06.
Meanwhile, another RTI reply received from Doordarshan Kendra revealed that the total expenditure incurred by it on the "Ek Nayi Subah" show was Rs 92 lakh.
The RTI reply revealed that the advertisements were given to all the leading national dailies apart from other English, Hindi and regional dailies across the country.
During the event, the central government showcased its achievements, and Bollywood's leading names, including Amitabh Bachchan, espoused social causes at the show, which lasted over six hours.
A range of initiatives, including the Swachh Bharat campaign, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Pradhan Mantrai Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana were highlighted. Also showcased were projects to boost farmers' income, enhance connectivity, step up investment and enhance jobs and improve rail, road and air infrastructure, and provide electricity to all villages.
The central government and ruling party had come down heavily on the AAP government in Delhi for spending what they said was a huge amount of public money on advertisements and publicity.
The Delhi government had allocated Rs 526 crore for pubicity and information for the financial year of 2015-16. This allocation was later reduced to Rs 100 crore in the revised estimates.
The panel set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on content regulation of government advertisements charged the AAP government with violating Supreme Court guidelines and had ordered it to "reimburse to the state exchequer" the entire amount that it had spent on its advertisements.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report had stated that the AAP government's expenditure on advertisement and publicity had gone up three times from the previous government's Rs 25.25 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 81.23 crore in 2015-16.
The report also stated that Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) expenditure was Rs 11.12 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 25.25 crore in 2013-14.