Arvind Kejriwal govt on CAG radar for spending Rs 28 crore on political ads outside Delhi

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has reportedly pulled up Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for spending Rs 28 crore on advertisements and publicity campaign outside of Delhi.

In its yet-to-be-tabled audit report, the CAG has raised question on Delhi government's spending taxpayers' money to the tune of 85 percent of Rs 35.40 crore on one single publicity and campaign outside of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

As reported by Times Now, the Chapter 2 of the CAG audit report has mentioned that "Rs 25 crore incurred on advertisement and publicity campaign is not in conformity with the generally accepted principles of financial propriety as laid down by the Supreme Court".

Arvind Kejriwal govt on CAG radar for spending Rs 28 crore on political ads outside Delhi

File image of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

According to sources, the draft copy of the said audit report for the year ending 31 March, 2016, was sent to the Delhi government on 8 July for its response. "As per the procedure, a draft copy of the audit findings is sent to the respective government or department seeking its response on audit findings. Similarly, it was sent to the Delhi government on 8 July and they were supposed to get back by 16 August, which it didn't. There wasn't any response from Kejriwal government," the source said.

There had been a lot of hullabaloo over Kejriwal government's whopping publicity budget of Rs 526 crore.

A month after the Swaraj Budget was passed in July 2015, the Delhi government’s decision to set aside Rs 526 crore in its annual budget for publicity and advertisement was severely criticized by the Opposition parties as well as its own MLA.

“I’ve questioned the government for spending such a large sum on advertisements, which is basically self-promotion. We have questioned other political parties for misusing public money, but now the AAP government too is wasting taxpayers' money. This money could have been utilized for development purpose. Moreover, it’s the violation of Supreme Court order that public money can’t be used for political propaganda. A government can release ads to make people aware about its schemes and announcements,” AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar had told Firstpost in August 2015.

“By releasing costly ads, the Delhi government has wasted public money. It’s the taxpayers’ money that the Delhi government has used to promote itself. This could have been utilized for the benefit of the people of Delhi,” former AAP national executive and Swaraj Abhiyan's Yogendra Yadav had then remarked.

In the letter written to the CAG in June, Delhi's deputy CM Manish Sisodia had stated that he was disappointed to know that the CAG was only auditing the advertisement expenses of the Delhi Government's being portrayed as if Delhi was the only government which was placing advertisements in media platforms outside the state.

“CAG is not auditing the advertisement expenses of either the central government or any other state government,” Sisodia wrote, while welcoming the decision of the CAG to “specially” audit its Publicity Department and the Public Works Department (PWD).

A senior official in Delhi government told Firstpost that the total publicity budget stands at Rs 75 crore and not Rs 526 crore.

"It's surprising that CAG conducted special audit on Delhi government only, and not any other state government. Whatever queries the CAG raises, the Delhi government will respond to it. There is nothing to hide for us," the official said on condition of anonymity.

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Updated Date: Aug 24, 2016 12:04:56 IST

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