Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shanta Kumar has said that most of the party leaders “were with me” on the issue of Vyapam and Sushma Swaraj-Vasundhara Raje episodes.
In an interview to India Today television channel, the former Himachal Pradesh chief minister said three of the BJP ministers actually congratulated him for taking up the issue with BJP party chief Amit Shah, and appreciated that he took up something which they also wanted to speak on but felt scared to.
“Three of the ministers said that you did good work,” he said while terming as “false” the media reports suggesting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him.
Kumar, who denied reports that Modi had ticked him off for his July 10 letter to the party president, said he has not spoken to the prime minister since writing that letter.
The BJP leader also said the Vyapam scam and allegations against Raje needed to be thoroughly investigated. “I did not ask for resignation (of Raje), it needs to be probed,” he said.
On the BJP, Kumar said, it used to be a party with a difference but now the difference has diminished and eroded.
“When I wrote that letter, and even now, I believe that these incidents (controversies involving Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan) have damaged the image of the BJP,” he said, and added that something should be done to arrest any further damage.
He also emphasised that the BJP “must introspect” on the issue.
On Swaraj, Kumar said if what she told to the BJP parliamentary committee was correct, there was no need for her to resign.
Asked if she should resign, he said he did not know the facts and hence could not comment on the issue.
On his interview to a website in April 2002, in which he had said that if he were Narendra Modi he would have quit after the Gujarat killings, Kumar said he still maintains that view.
“It was an assessment based on my conscious. But in 2014 before the general elections it was I who said that Narendra Modi should lead the party in elections and be made candidate for prime ministership,” he said.
Asked if he felt disappointed at the current state of affairs in the BJP, Kumar said he is a “well-wisher” and wants it to remain “the party with difference”.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)