Opposition slams Delhi government for misusing public funds, AAP denies charge

New Delhi: The BJP and the Congress on Saturday attacked Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government for violating the Supreme Court guidelines and spending taxpayers’ money on advertisements after a panel set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry ordered it to reimburse the amount so spent. The AAP government denied the charge.

The panel on content regulation of government advertisements charged the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of violating Supreme Court guidelines and ordered it to “reimburse to the state exchequer” the entire amount that it had spent on its advertisements.

The panel was also critical of the advertisements put out by AAP outside Delhi.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the amount of Rs 18.64 crore be recovered from AAP leaders.

“We demand reimbursement of Rs 18.64 from the responsible AAP leaders for violating Supreme Court guidelines,” Leader of Opposition in Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta, of the BJP, said in his letter to Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung.

In his letter, Gupta said he demanded “that the responsibility of AAP ministers and officers of the Delhi government should be fixed so that it does not happen in future”.

“Stern action should be taken against them.”

Gupta alleged that the AAP has spent the money to improve the image of its party leaders in the public domain and to mislead the people.

The BJP further demanded that an officer should be appointed in the LG’s office for passing the advertisements.

The Congress on Saturday demanded that an FIR be lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation against persons in the AAP government responsible for siphoning off public funds for private purposes.

Addressing a press conference, state party chief Ajay Maken said that the amount being used for advertising under the AAP government’s tenure in Delhi has increased 14.5 times.

It also accused the Kejriwal government of misusing public funds for AAP’s “political activities”.

“During 2014, when Delhi was under President’s Rule, the total amount spent on advertising was Rs 14.5 crore. The very next year, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, spent Rs 127 crore on advertisements and in the current fiscal its Rs 207.73 crore.”

Welcoming the panel’s order, Maken said that while the Chief Minister says that he does not even have the power to buy a pen, the order of the committee proves that in the last 18 months, Kejriwal has “blown up more than Rs 100 crore” of government money for personal and political activities of the AAP.

“The order (of the committee) comes as a big relief for the tax payers of Delhi, as their hard-earned money siphoned off by the Chief Minister will now be recovered from his party,” he said.

Citing the recently published CAG report, the Congress leader said the report has indicted the Delhi Government for spending 85 per cent of the total money allocated for publicity outside Delhi.

“How can you use funds meant for Delhi in other states,” he asked, adding that the Kejriwal regime had given a number of advertisements in other states trying to fulfil his political agenda.

However, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday clarified that his government has not violated apex court guidelines on advertisements.

“I don’t think we have violated guidelines of the Supreme Court on advertisements as the government has not given advertisement for glorification of its own image. Advertisements were meant for public welfare,” Jain told reporters here.

He also asked why no body was questioning the civic bodies when they have put up hoardings bearing the pictures of mayors and councillors.

“BJP-ruled civic body hoardings carrying pictures of mayors and councillors can be seen across Delhi. They are spending money meant for taking preventive measures to stop the spread of dengue and chikungunya, on hoardings. Why doesn’t anybody question them?” Jain asked.