Congress slams Delhi’s Rs.526 crore publicity budget

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Congress leader Ajay Maken on Thursday criticised the Delhi government’s decision to hike its publicity budget from Rs.24 crore to Rs.526.19 crore, calling it an attempt to “purchase the media”. The government defended the move.

“Delhi is not a rich state. Crores of rupees cannot be spent on publicity or for advertisements,” Maken told IANS.

He also took to Twitter and posted: “No money has been spent on infrastructure development, but the government has decided to spend Rs.520 crore on publicity. Is it to purchase the media?”

However, the Delhi government’s spokesperson Nagendra Sharma told IANS: “This is the first time when the Delhi government has created a head for information and publicity department. So, it is clear that the government has voluntarily allowed itself to be audited.”

He challenged if prior to the Aam Aadmi Party government, “did anyone know how much money was being spent on government advertisements?”

“Earlier the money spent on advertisements was shown in other expenses,” Sharma added.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia too dismissed the issue and said these were tactics to take the focus off the good work being done by the AAP government.

“Instead of focusing on our work, the media is talking about other things. I request the media to also look at the work we are doing. The advertisements are to highlight our work with the people,” he said.

According to the budget 2015-16, a consolidated fund of Rs.500 crore was set aside for advertising and publicity, while Rs.26 crore more were allocated for information technology and other expenses of the publicity department.

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