An RTI reply has revealed that the Delhi’s AAP government was spending Rs. 16 lakh a day on advertising just in the print media.
The reply, reported by NDTV, also revealed that over the last 91 days, the Delhi government had spent Rs. 14.45 crore on advertising. This did not include the cost incurred on TV and radio advertisements, whose cumulative cost could be significantly higher.
Among the publications having received money from the Delhi government included three Malayali and one Kannada newspapers, all of them believed to be very popular in Kerala and Karnataka.
The Arvind Kejriwal government has, in the past, defended its expense on advertisements saying that they were aimed at spreading awareness about public policies.
Not so long ago, while replying in the Lok Sabha, the party had admitted to spending around Rs. 5 crore for publicising the two rounds of the the government’s ambitious car-rationing Odd-Even scheme, implemented for a fortnight each in January and April this year.
The RTI was filed by advocate Aman Panwar of the Congress party, which too had faced criticism for splashing Rs. 23 crore in 2010 while hosting the Commonwealth Games under the Sheila Dikshit government.
The NDTV report further added that the AAP government had spent Rs. 80 crore in its first year in power.
The government’s decision to allocate Rs 526 crore towards advertisements had become hugely controversial with its detractors often targetting the party for wasting tax-payers’ money.
The Congress, earlier this year, had also moved court alleging that a significant portion of the advertising money was spent on media publicity as the Arvind Kejriwal government completed one year in office.
The party’s petition in court had stated, “These outstation ads are of no use to the Delhi taxpayers or for the residents of towns and cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru etc.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken slammed the AAP government and said,”On one hand we don’t have money to pay to ‘safai karmacharis’ for salaries. On one hand we don’t have money to pay for pensions. On the other hand, they are spending more than the previous year on their self-publicity.”