“Delhi government ads should not promote “political interests” of the ruling party”

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Advertisements issued by the Delhi government should not promote “political interests” of the ruling party, a new state directive has said, days after Lt Governor Anil Baijal ordered recovery of Rs 97 crore spent on publicity from the AAP.

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A circular issued on April 13 by the Directorate of Information and Publicity of the Delhi government has directed all department heads to ensure that advertisements are presented in an “objective and fair” manner.

“Advertisements should be presented in an objective and fair manner and be designed to meet the objectives of the campaign. Besides, advertisements should be objective and not directed at promoting political interests of the ruling party,” Sandeep Mishra, special director (I&P), said in the circular.

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It has also asked the department heads to give break-up of cost of an advertisement campaign while seeking the final approval of the design or script from the competent authority.

The circular stated that in case of large volume of advertisement campaigns, the assessment of such campaigns will be “necessary” at a later stage.

Last month, Baijal had ordered the recovery from the AAP Rs 97 crore which was allegedly “splurged” by the city government on advertisements in violation of the Supreme Court’s guidelines.

The LG had also ordered an inquiry into the spendings on advertisements promoting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party and asked the chief secretary to fix responsibility.

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The circular also stated that in the selection of media outlets (print, electronic and outdoor), the factors including identification of targeted audience or the visibility of a media outlet for the effectiveness of the advertisement campaigns, should be taken care of by the department concerned.

In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had recently said that the AAP government had spent Rs 29 crore in releasing advertisements outside Delhi which was “beyond its responsibility”.

The circular also said that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be followed for releasing government’s advertisements as per the the “laid down guidelines”.

“Keeping in view of the budget allocation or funds availability, the concerned department should assess the expenditure involved in the proposed advertisement campaign.

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“For this, the department should calculate the estimated total cost of the campaign with cost break up format wise while seeking the final approval of the design/script/media list from competent authority,” Kumar also said in circular.

Kejriwal has said that the Lt Governor’s order for recovering the amount from the AAP will be challenged, saying it is “totally wrong”.

Three days after the LG’s order, the AAP government had on March 31 ordered an inquiry, including examining call details of suspected staff, who might have “leaked” copies of the Lt Governor’s order on recovery of Rs 97 crore from the AAP for ads spendings.

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