Tuesday February 20, 2018
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Delhi’s Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar resigns, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says Emergency-like situation

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New Delhi: A bitter battle between the central and AAP governments worsened on Tuesday as police arrested Delhi’s Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar amid high drama and secured a four-day police custody over his alleged fake degree. The AAP denounced the arrest as vendetta.

The minister late Tuesday submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying he did not want the image of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the government to be tarnished.

Earlier Tuesday, Metropolitan Magistrate Navjeet Budhiraja sent Tomar to police remand after police argued that the AAP leader was an influential man who could fabricate documents if he remained free.

Police slapped cases of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery after picking up Tomar from his office early in the morning and then dramatically taking him into custody.

There was no comment from Kejriwal. But a livid Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia called the arrest illegal and said that an “Emergency-like situation” was being imposed on the capital by Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung.

Delhi Police reports to the Lt. Governor and the union home ministry, and not the AAP government.

Delhi Police rejected charges of wrongdoing. Its chief B.S. Bassi maintained that the arrest was “within the parameters of law”. He said: “There is no conspiracy behind the arrest.”

The AAP, which took power in Delhi in February, accused police of roughing up Tomar. Delhi assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said he wasn’t informed about the arrest.

Sisodia said vested interests were ganging up against the AAP government because of its anti-corruption campaign.

He said about 40 policemen swooped on Tomar’s office and took him away as if he was a fugitive.

“Police told Tomar that they had come to see some documents… They asked him to accompany them to his house. On the way they told his driver to get off, took charge of the vehicle and told him that he was being detained,” said Sisodia, adding Tomar was told “that he could ask someone to bring the documents to the police station”.

“What is going on?” he asked. “Was he (Tomar) running away? Did he explode bombs in Delhi? There is an allegation (against him). The matter is in court. What was the need to arrest him?”

Sisodia added: “This arrest is illegal. There is an Emergency-like situation. This is supposed to be a democracy… Maybe it is an attempt to teach the AAP a lesson (for what we are doing).”

The arrest triggered protests by AAP supporters at the Hauz Khas police station in south Delhi where Tomar was initially taken. He was later moved to Vasant Vihar where AAP leaders Ashutosh and Kumar Vishwas staged a protest.

Tuesday’s arrest peaked a simmering row between the central and AAP governments over the powers of the Delhi government over the posting and transfer of senior officials. This too is now facing judicial scrutiny.

The arrest also coincided with an ugly turf war between the central and state governments over the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh asked: “If the case relates to a fake degree, will ministers Smriti Irani and Ram Shanker Katheria (of BJP) will also be taken to police station without any prior notice?”

Tomar told CNN-IBN that he didn’t know why he was arrested, adding it had been done to tarnish the AAP’s image.

Two cases are pending against Tomar in the Delhi High Court, alleging he enrolled himself as an advocate on the basis of a fake law degree and seeking cancellation of his election. Tomar says his degree is genuine.

“The case was very clear from the first day but Kejriwal turned a blind eye and let him (Tomar) continue as a minister,” Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay said.

“This is the first time a minister has been arrested,” added Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken.

But the CPI-M denounced the arrest as shocking, and said it was a clear case of vendetta politics. It asked Lt. Governor Jung to resign. (IANS)

 

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AAP’S Media Spend Is Four Times That Of Previous Government: RTI Reply

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP's one year in power in 2016

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Picture of Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally. Wikimedia Commons
  • The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore
  • The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government
  • A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016

The AAP government has spent an average of Rs 70.5 crore annually in the past three years on advertisements — four times more than the previous government’s expenditure on print, electronic and outdoor advertising, according to an RTI reply.

In the first year after assuming office in February 2015, the current government spent Rs 59.9 crore on advertisements, Rs 66.3 crore the next year and Rs 85.3 crore up to December 31, 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) said in reply to an RTI application by IANS.

The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore. The Congress’ average was Rs 17.4 crore in the last five years of its rule (2008-2013).

Also Read: AAP welcomes BJP’s stand on inter-faith marriages

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers.

For instance, when the AAP government completed its first and second anniversary in 2016 and 2017, leading newspapers in the capital carried full-page advertisements, highlighting the achievements of the government.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons
The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to celebrating its three years in office, the government in the first two weeks of February carried advertisements flashing pictures of the Chief Minister or other ministers. The highlights included the inauguration of community toilets, excellence awards distribution for students, a government meeting on “smart gaon”, and invitation of applications for scholarship schemes.

The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government.

Also Read: Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

But the average advertisement rate charged by a leading English newspaper, comparing the Congress government and AAP government periods, has increased by about 17 percent, according to DAVP.

For the same period, the average rate charged by another leading English newspaper has increased by about 35 percent.

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016.

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons
According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements.

Last year, the government came under an opposition attack after Lt. Governor Anil Baijal asked the AAP to cough up Rs 97 crore spent on advertisements, allegedly to promote the party instead of the government. The LG order was based on a report by the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA).

Also Read: 5 Years of AAP: How Society Has Been Backstabbed by ChandaChor Kejriwal

The regulatory authority asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure in issuing “those advertisements/advertorials in which the name of the Aam Aadmi Party is mentioned” and other factors.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there.

Delhi government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma said he has “no comments” to offer on the increase in expenditure.

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons
The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken said: “They (AAP) are using the power of advertisements to put pressure on TV (channels) and newspapers. They are doing it ruthlessly”.

BJP MLA and Delhi Assembly Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta termed the government’s spending on advertisements as “irrational”. “Misuse of public money in this way is completely unjustified and unethical,” Gupta told IANS. (IANS)