Skip to main content

Ruling BJP "using" taxpayers' money to promote its chances of winning forthcoming assembly, Lok Sabha polls

By Sheshu Babu
'Beware of false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance... Democracy is a device that insures that we shall be governed no better than we deserve' – George Bernard Shaw
Even before the official announcement of dates of elections in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, or elections to the Lok Sabha, campaigns, rallies and advertising have already started. Politicians are already beginning to woo voters. Parties have begun to promote fake news and disseminate false information with contrived statistical data to convince people. Huge money is being spent on advertisements.
The BJP seems to be in the forefront on spending money for advertisement and publicity. Aam Admi Party member Ashutosh questioned  BJP in 2014 itself on spending Rs 400 crore on advertisements. The party spent Rs. 2,000 crore over the last years three year anniversary advertisements, according to Sisodia. Sisodia also said that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) can compare the AAP government’s advertisements to the BJP government’s to see if taxpayers’ money has been misused or not.
AAP was reacting to a CAG report, which accused the Delhi’s AAP government of spending a total of Rs 33.40 crore on releasing advertisements outside Delhi, violating advertisement guidelines issued by the Supreme Court. In 2015, the apex court issued guidelines to prevent ruling politicians from misusing taxpayers' money on advertisements.
According to a Right to Information (RTI) reply to activist Anil Galgali, the Central government has splurged Rs 4,343.26 on advertisement and publicity in media. Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) financial advisor Tapan Sutradhar in his replies gave figures of government spending on publicity, print publicity, electronic media publicity, outdoor publicity, etc.
Galgali said that after the criticism of opposition on government's squandering of scarce public resources, the government had to finally cut down spending. However, the spending is still higher this financial year when compared to its first year in office. The spending on publicity is high.
With the money spent on advertisements and publicity, the NDA government could have provided mid-day meals for 45.7 million children for a year. One day wages for 200 million workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme could have been disbursed. About six million latrines could have been constructed, or at least 10 Mars missions could have been undertaken.
The government spent Rs 4,480 crore ($753.99 million) on advertising its flagship schemes in the 52 months between April 2014 and July 2018, according to the information made available https://www.firstpost.com/india/rs-4800-cr-spent-by-bjp-government-on-ads-could-have-fed-46-million-children-midday-meals-for-a-year-built-6-million-toilets-4936701.html to the Rajya Sabha by Rajavardhan Rathore, minister of state for information and broadcasting. This amount is double the amount spent by its predecessor in 37 months.
According to “India Spend”, many welfare measures like financing secondary school education, building roads, electricity generation could have been with this money. There has been a rise of 34% in spending on publicity and advertisement from Rs 980 crore in 2014-15 to 1,134 crore in 2017-18. The trend may continue this year.
Spending enormous amounts on mere advertisements should be questioned. Publicising welfare schemes is necessary because people should know its provisions, but spending on just propaganda and achievements of the party is wasteful expenditure. Since peoples' funds are involved, they must question whether spending large amounts is essential for the government.
Taxpayers' money must be used judiciously, keeping in view the welfare of the people, and not promoting the chances of victory of the ruling party in the next elections. Civil rights groups and educated intellectuals should explain the importance of judicious spending of public money by the government.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…