New Delhi: Fresh from its Delhi municipal bypoll victory, Congress sought to put the Arvind Kejriwal government in the dock by approaching a Supreme Court constituted committee, accusing it of "blatant abuse" of guidelines on grant of advertisements.
Amid the growing controversy over the huge advertisement spend by the Delhi government, DPCC Chief Ajay Maken has made a strong pitch to the Committee that it recovers the amount from the ruling AAP and its leaders and the same be reimbursed to the corpus of Delhi government for utilisation of public welfare measures.
Releasing the letter to BB Tandon, Chairman of the Committee on Content Regulation of Government advertisements, Maken insisted that Kejriwal would be better served to spend this money on the welfare of Delhi citizens. Tandon is a former Election Commissioner.
"If Odd-Even implemented in Delhi or Delhi school fees have been reduced, what's the justification for ads in Karnataka?", he asked.
Giving the growth of the advertisement spend, he said that it was mere Rs 14.50 crore in 2014-15, but the following year with AAP firmly in the saddle it ballooned to Rs 127.2 crore, a 900 per cent jump. In 2016-17, it is set at Rs 207.73 crore, a 1427 per cent jump over 14-15.
Maken contended that if the Delhi government is permitted to continue such large scale abuse of Delhi tax payers money only for benefiting media houses by publishing "illogical ads" outside Delhi, then the neutrality of media houses is liable to be compromised.
Detailing the "blatant abuse" committed by the government on various counts,it wanted the Committee to ban the Delhi government from publishing (a) outstation/ national level ads, (b) advertisements published as media reports, (c) false-misleading ads, (d)large scale ads on anniversary of party in power (e) ads for self-glorification and to target political parties and the opposition (f)ads against the media (g) ads mentioning the party in power by name.
It also wanted the Delhi government to be restrained from issuing ads on issues outside its jurisdiction as also against unequal distribution of ads to patronise select media houses.
Seeking to put a full stop to the Kejriwal government issuing such ads, Maken also wanted the Committee to direct it to get its prior approval before issuing them.
Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi took to Twitter to take a dig at Delhi government on the issue. "Arvind Kejriwal got ppl mandate not a mandate to deal with treasury as he pleases"
Another party spokesman Sanjay Jha tweeted:" Every election is a public referendum. #MCDbypolls a message to AAP, that people will not be fooled by publicity gimmicks and endless TV ads".