The Congress and the BJP are strongly opposing the advertisements that have been put out by the AAP government in Delhi. Is it a case of the pot calling the kettle black?
Opposition is not necessarily enmity; it is merely misused and made an occasion for enmity, said Sigmund Freud, one of 20th century’s most influential thinkers. In what seems to be a classic example of the Opposition taking on the ruling party merely for the sake of it, the Congress and the BJP have been crying foul over Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s full page advertisements in newspapers across the country.
While Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has told the Delhi high court that the AAP government is violating the supreme court’s guidelines on government advertisements, leader of opposition in Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta, who is from the BJP, raised the issue claiming that the advertisements are “politically motivated”.
I would say, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
The BJP and the Congress have to take their fair share of blame for wasting public money on advertisements and self-publicity. And Kejriwal is not one to keep quiet. In response to the allegation of spending Rs 526 crore on advertisements, he accused the BJP of spending Rs 1000 crore on celebrations to mark the completion of its two years in government at the centre.
While they blame each other and indulge in name-calling, nobody is putting an end to the extravagance on advertisements. At the end of the day, it is the common people, who are at the receiving end since public money could have been put to use for the larger good of the people.
There are allegations that Kejriwal is spending public money to run advertisements criticising the centre in other states. Why? Kejriwal is the chief minister of Delhi. Why is he acting like the information minister of the country? If he feels the need to enlighten people about central government’s wrongdoings, he has all the right to do so. But not with the money allocated for the development of Delhi.
Sudden love for Punjabi language
The full page advertisements flaunting AAP government’s planned boost to Punjabi language in Delhi schools seems like an obtuse indicator of the party’s preparations for Punjab assembly polls next year. Kejriwal’s party is preparing for Punjab polls, not his government. So this is the use of government exchequer for his party purposes.
Every government prepares a report card at the end of its term, but the Narendra Modi government’s annual celebrations of its self-proclaimed achievements are a burden on public exchequer. Let your work speak for you. Trust the people who put you in Delhi with an overwhelming mandate.
Why did Sonia Gandhi’s photographs appear in UPA government advertisements? Congress and its first family’s sycophants, when in government at the centre or in the states, have left no occasion to burden the public exchequer by pompous commemoration of the death and birth anniversaries of entire clan. Be it hospitals, airports, roads, schools, or government programmes, everything has been named after the members of Nehru family and then lakhs and crores have been spent in promoting them.
What the laws and regulations say
As the existing Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) policy doesn’t have guidelines to distinguish between government advertisements in public interest and those aimed at furthering ruling party’s political agenda, the supreme court in April 2014 appointed a high-powered committee to come up with guidelines regulating government advertisements until the legislature comes up with a law for the same.
The committee submitted its guidelines in October 2014. The advertisements by the governments of AAP, BJP and Congress have been in violation of the committee guidelines:
- Government advertisements should not be allowed to the advantage of the ruling party and for assailing the opposition.
- There should be a clear-cut differentiation between legitimate messages of government from that of political messages which can be done by enacting legislation.
- There should only be a single advertisement, preferably by information and broadcasting ministry, in respect of commemorative advertisements, which are given on birth and death anniversary of an important personality.
- Only pictures and names of the president, the prime minister, governor and chief ministers should be published to “keep politics away from such ads”.
In April 2016, on directions of the supreme court, the ministry of information and broadcasting constituted a three member committee to address complaints of violation in the implementation of the supreme court guidelines. The committee would also take suo motu cognisance of any violation and recommend corrective action to the ministry.
More than guidelines, what is needed is a stringent law to tackle this issue.