Monday February 19, 2018
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One Rank One Pension: Anna Hazare to join CPI-M, TMC protest

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Political support poured in on Wednesday for ex-servicemen demanding the implementation of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme, even as the BJP sent party leader Vijay Goel to assure the veterans on their demand.

While Anna Hazare said he would arrive at Jantar Mantar to join the ex-servicemen’s protest on July 26, Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) too voiced their support for the veterans, protesting here since June 14.

Goel met the agitating ex-servicemen on Wednesday – the 32nd day of their protest – and assured them that the central government was working towards implementing the scheme.

The ex-servicemen have been resorting to a relay hunger strike since June 15.

“I met the ex-servicemen today on the OROP issue. Many of them have faith that the Modi government will implement it, but they are questioning why it has been delayed,” Goel said in a tweet.

Maj. Gen Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian ex-Servicemen Movement, told IANS that Goel assured them that OROP will be implemented.

“He assured that the prime minister will give us the OROP. We told him the delay is not acceptable; it should have happened long back,” Singh told IANS.

“We conveyed that if the implementation (of OROP) is announced, we will end the agitation. If there is further delay, we will like to know what is the reason for the delay,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien met the protesting veterans on Wednesday and conveyed the support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their cause.

United Front of Ex-Servicemen Morcha (UFESM) spokesperson Col. Anil Kaul (retd) told IANS they also got a letter of support from CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

“We have urged them (political leaders) to raise the issue in parliament,” Singh told IANS.

The ex-servicemen are demanding that the government give them a definite date for OROP implementation and that the nature of the scheme should not be changed.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the pay commission recommendations in force at the time of their retirement.

This leads to a difference in pension for officers of the same rank who retire on different dates.

(With inputs from 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)