Cong demands recovery of Rs 854 cr from AAP over ad spending

Cong demands recovery of Rs 854 cr from AAP over ad spending

Cong demands recovery of Rs 854 cr from AAP over ad spending
Congress today demanded recovery of nearly Rs 854 crore from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi for publishing advertisements on self-promotion, a day after a Central government-appointed committee said the Kejriwal government splurged exchequer's money on the advertisements.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his administration should also be probed by CBI or any other agency for "criminality" in the matter, AICC senior spokesman and Delhi PCC chief Ajay Maken told reporters.

Maken insisted that Lt Governor Najeeb Jung should ensure recovery of the advertisement cost at commercial rate which are issued at thrice the cost of the DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) rate as they were issued for promotion of the ruling AAP and its leaders. He said the AAP spent Rs 284.67 crore during its regime on advertisements which were published outside Delhi.

"Had the AAP issued these advertisements on non DAVP rates, three times more, the cost of the same would have been more than Rs 850 crore. As per the Order of the Committee, AAP is liable to reimburse the Delhi government a sum of more than Rs 854 crore," he said.

A Central government-appointed committee, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon, in its order yesterday came down heavily on the AAP government, saying it had splurged public funds on advertisements projecting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and asked the ruling party to reimburse.

The three-member committee had been constituted by the I&B ministry on directions of the Supreme Court to address issues related to Content Regulation in Government Advertising.

In its order, the panel said that AAP should be made to reimburse the expenditure since the violation of the Supreme Court order of May 13, 2015, has taken place. Maken, who had approached the Supreme Court and High Court on the issue of ads issued by AAP government in July this year, hailed the committee's order saying it was a "big relief" for the tax payers in Delhi.

"Not only did the AAP government spend money outside Delhi, they also lied about development works in the capital that were advertised in other states," Maken alleged. Citing CAG report, he said, "No new dispensaries were created in 2015-16 by the government in Delhi. On the AAP government's claim of making dispensaries at lower costs, CAG said they couldn't find files that supported the claim made in the TV ad."

"AAP said it has saved Rs 350 crore in the construction of flyovers. But CAG in its report found that this couldn't be verified," he said. Maken pointed that according to CAG report over 85 per cent of expenditure for advertisements incurred in one campaign was in areas outside the authority of Delhi.

The money recovered from AAP should be spent on opening dispensaries and hospitals in Delhi as it was the hard-earned money of the taxpayers of the state, he said. The money if recovered from AAP could be used to open 4,000 new dispensaries and 16 hospitals in Delhi, he said.

"As claimed by AAP, if it costs Rs 20 lakh to make dispensaries, how many could have been made if this money was spent for that. Instead of spending on these advertisements, the Delhi government should spend more on schools and hospitals," he said.

Citing budget figures of Delhi government, Maken said that while Rs 14.5 crore was spent on advertisements during the President's rule in Delhi in 2014-15, it rose to Rs 127.18 crore in 2015-16 when AAP came to power.

Further it has been increased to Rs 207.63 crore in 2016-17, he said adding that Congress will exert "pressure" on the Delhi government for recovering the money from AAP.
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