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Vyapam scam: Chouhan ordered appointment of Malay Rai in a haste, reveals RTI

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shivraj singh chouhan

New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had hastily ordered the appointment of Malay Rai as Madhya Pradesh State Finance Commission member over the phone, an RTI query has revealed.

Rai was chairman of the MP professional examination board, or Vyapam, in 2009-10, and the order (dated June 6, 2014) was issued even as the Vyapam scam was being investigated.

Chouhan was on one of his foreign tours in June 2014 when he made the urgent call to the state finance department.

This was revealed in an RTI reply given by the State Finance Department, to whistleblower Ajay Dubey. The RTI reply stated that the CM approved the proposal for the appointment on phone, subject to formal confirmation on his return from his trip overseas.

A copy of the State Finance department order has been provided in the RTI reply. The reply also said that the tenure of the finance commission will be up to June 30, 2015.

Dubey said that he would be filing one of several petitions in the Supreme Court regarding this.

“What was the urgency in issuing the order telephonically? Our contention is that how can the state government appoint the former chairman of Vyapam to the finance commission when the examination board itself is under investigation, he said, adding that none of the officials of the board has yet got a clean chit.

Dubey also said that After the Vyapam question paper leaks in 2008 and 2009, the state government in 2010 had recruited central observers, including retired IAS, IFS and IPS officers and retired persons from academic field to observe and monitor the scanning of answer sheets.

“From 2010 till date about 500 central observers have been recruited by the state to monitor scanning of sheets, but still there have been irregularities. The scam hasn’t stopped with regard to the recruitment of professionals,” said Dubey

The MP Board, also known as Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam conducts examinations to recruit government employees in the state and holds admission tests for medical courses.

It has been mired in controversies for years, but it eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examinations.

This was followed by arrests of the state’s ex-education minister Laxmikant Sharma, bureaucrats, Vyapam officials, racketeers, middlemen, candidates and their parents after the Special Task Force (STF) was established in August 2013.

More than 2.000 had been arrested so far in connection with the scam. According to reports, the admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh could be pegged at Rs.20,000 crore involving about 30,000 people.

Forty-five associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances.

(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)