NEW DELHI (TIP): The Delhi government has come under fire for setting aside Rs 526.74 crore for information and publicity in the budget. With an outlay of Rs 41,129 crore for the current financial year, the opposition calls the advertising budget
“ridiculous”, especially since the government has trimmed its outlay for infrastructure work like road repair.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia justified the allocation, saying that with media largely showing negative stories about the government, it needed a platform “where it could show the real picture”.

Leader of opposition Vijender Gupta said the allocation was 2,200% more than the previous year’s allocation. “The AAP government wants to present its leader Arvind Kejriwal as a messiah.

While Rs 526.74 crore has been earmarked for information and publicity, Rs 338 crore has been allocated for SC/ST/EWS welfare, Rs 350 crore for nutrition, Rs 208 crore for labour and employment and Rs 400 crore for development of slums,” said Gupta.

Sources said the allocation for publicity in 2014-15 was Rs 23.7 crore, Rs 25 crore in 2013-14, Rs 24.9 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 27.6 crore in 2011-12.

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DPCC chief Ajay Maken said while there was no money for infrastructure development, the government had earmarked such a huge amount for glorification of the CM.

The government has already received severe criticism for a television ad that showed a housewife struggling with day-to-day work while her husband sat around watching TV. Sources said the campaign cost the state exchequer about Rs 1.5 crore.

A government spokesperson denied the figures put out by BJP and Congress for previous years, saying no department had ever given a proper budget for advertising undertaken by them. “This is the first time ever that Delhi government has opened itself to scrutiny and put out an exact figure earmarked for advertising. This is a consolidated figure for all departments for advertisements, public outreach programmes and information outflow” he said.

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