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PDP backs Mehbooba Mufti as CM but BJP bargains for 50:50 formula

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Srinagar:  The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the governor to let Mehbooba Mufti, the daughter of late Mohammad Sayeed, to administer the Muslim-majority state.

However, PDP’s coalition partner BJP might reportedly bargain for a 50:50 formula for running the state.

A huge mass of mourners assembled at the first ‘Nimaz-e-Jinaza’ (funeral prayer) for Sayeed here and a second in his hometown Bijbehara where he was laid to rest.

Peoples Democratic Party leaders Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Altaf Bukhari submitted a letter to Governor N.N. Vohra nominating Mehbooba Mufti as the leader of the PDP’s legislature party — which would entitle her to assume charge as the new chief minister.

A senior PDP leader said its coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party, backed Mehbooba Mufti’s elevation as chief minister.

Mehbooba Mufti, a Lok Sabha member, will have to get elected to the assembly or be nominated to the legislative council (upper house) within six months if she succeeds her late father as the chief minister. She will be the first woman chief minister of the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

However, BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna, who is in charge of the party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, said the chief ministerial issue has not been decided yet, and the party will take a call soon.

“There has been no discussion over the issue of the chief ministerial candidate yet. When the matter comes up, the party will take a call”,  Khanna told media.

“It is for the PDP to decide who will be its legislature party leader”, he said when asked about the PDP nominating Mehbooba Mufti as its leader in the state legislature.

Another top BJP functionary said that the party will push for the formula of 50:50 for the remainder of the chief ministerial term, meaning for half of the rest of the term the PDP would head the government and the BJP for the other half.

“Mufti saheb had proposed earlier too to consider Mehbooba as the chief minister when we were in talks for the formation of the government earlier, but we were not ready”, he said.

“We had clearly said that if he himself opts for the top post, the BJP has no problem but if Mehbooba would be projected, the BJP would go for 50:50 formula”, the BJP functionary said on condition of anonymity.

In the last assembly elections, the Peoples Democratic Party won 28 seats and the BJP 25. The opposition National Conference got 15 and the Congress 12.

Sayeed died in New Delhi on Thursday, 14 days after he was hospitalised.

He passed away at 9:10 AM at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, three days after he was put on a ventilator. “A severely diabetic, he died due to bone marrow dysfunction”, a spokesman of the AIIMS told media. He was admitted to the AIIMS on December 24 with fever as well as a chest infection.

Amid seven-day state mourning, his body was flown to Srinagar.

Sayeed, who survived several attacks on him by militants, was the chief minister for the first time in 2002-05 in a coalition government with the Congress. In March last year, he allied with the BJP to become the chief minister again.

President Pranab Mukherjee lauded his contribution to Jammu and Kashmir and to India through long years of public service.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Sayeed’s exemplary leadership had a major impact on people’s lives crediting him with ‘statesmanship’. Mufti Sahab provided a healing touch to Jammu and Kashmir.”

Sayeed was the third chief minister of the state to die in office — after G.M. Sadiq (1971) and Sheikh Abdullah (1982).

Born in Bijbehara on January 12, 1936, to a family of ‘Peers’, Sayeed studied in Srinagar and at the Aligarh Muslim University before he joined politics in 1959.

After taking on the iconic Sheikh Abdullah, Sayeed became a cabinet minister in Jammu and Kashmir in 1972. Just three years later, he became head of the state unit of the Congress party.

He joined Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986 but quit the following year to throw his lot with V.P. Singh, who revolted against Gandhi’s leadership and went on to become the prime minister in 1989.

Sayeed became the home minister in the V.P. Singh government.

Within days, militants abducted his third daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed, in Srinagar, forcing the VP Singh government to free five jailed guerrillas from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1999, after a brief stint again in the Congress when P.V. Narasimha Rao became its leader, Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba floated the PDP.(IANS)(Picture Courtesy:hindustantimes.com)

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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)