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In Buxar, rebels may trip official candidates

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Buxar (Bihar): The Puranas describe Buxar as the battlefield of gods and demons. Politically speaking, ‘gods’ and ‘demons’ will fight it out here in the Bihar assembly elections too.

The battle of Buxar district has turned out to be more than interesting as the official candidates of both the NDA and the Grand Alliance face stiff opposition from rebels in three of the four constituencies.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded candidates from Buxar, Rajpur and Brahmpur, leaving Dumraon constituency for Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

On the other side, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is contesting from Rajpur and Dumraon, the Congress from Buxar and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) from Brahmpur.

In 2010, the BJP won from Buxar and Brahmpur and the JD-U from Dumraon and Rajpur. They were allies then.

This time, the BJP denied ticket to both outgoing legislators, Sukhada Pandey (Buxar) and Dilmani Devi (Brahmpur).

The JD-U also denied ticket to incumbent legislator Daud Ali (Dumraon) and fielded former legislator Dadan Yadav. However, it reposed its faith in Rajpur victor Santosh Kumar Nirala.

The Congress candidate from Buxar and RJD’s from Brahmpur are both first timers.

Buxar has 29 candidates but the main fighters are BJP’s Pradip Dubey, 44, and Congress’ Sanjay Kumar Tiwari alias Munna Tiwari, 47, son of former union minister and Congress leader K.K. Tiwari.

Supporters of former minister and three-term BJP legislators Sukhda Pandey are angry after she was sidelined. They are sure to trip the BJP.

The Bahujan Samaj Party’s Saroj Kumar Rajbhar, 30, and Ashok Yadav, a JD-U rebel, are also in the fray. And Yadav, now an independent, could hurt the JD-U.

In Brahmpur, the NDA and Grand Alliance are in trouble. BJP’s Vivek Thakur, 45, son of former union minister C.P. Thakur, has an enemy in outgoing BJP legislator Dilmani Devi, who joined the JD-U after she was not re-nominated. She is now campaigning for RJD’s Shambhu Yadav.

The RJD is in a mess too. It denied ticket to four-time former legislator Ajeet Choudhry, 61, who is now a BSP candidate.

In Dumraon, BJP ally RLSP has fielded Ram Bihari Singh, who lost two elections. He is pitted against three-time legislator Dadan Yadav, who has won once as an independent and again on Samajwadi Party ticket.

Dadan Yadav too faces rebellion. Outgoing JD-U legislator Daud Ali, after being denied ticket, is now the candidate of Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party, giving sleepless nights to Dadan Yadav.

In Rajpur, the only reserve constituency, there seems to be a straight clash between BJP’s first timer Vishwanath Ram and JD-U’s 2010 winner Santosh Kumar Nirala.

Ram is a nephew of former BJP legislator Ram Narayan Ram. The Samajwadi Party and the BSP are also in the fray, the former fielding ex-legislator Chedi Lal Ram.

“Rebels have made the fight triangular in at least three seats in Buxar. Only Rajpur will see a direct fight between the BJP-led NDA and the Grand Alliance. So, rebels could spoil the chances of the official candidates,” Alok Kumar, a long-time Buxar resident, told IANS.

Munna Singh of Nawanagar doesn’t agree.

“There are lots of issues in Buxar. People who live on the banks of the Gange drink water contaminated with arsenic. There is hardly any water in canals. People are dependant on boring water. Unfortunately, no one talks about these issues,” he moaned.

“This election is being fought on caste lines,” he added.

Buxar will also witness an internecine Left war. Although the Communists have joined hands across Bihar, both Bhagwati Prasad of the CPI and Dhirendra Choudhry of the CPI-M are in the fray.

(Brajendra Nath Singh, 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)