'Rs 93 crore of taxpayers' money being spent on Congress-NCP allied campaign'

Leaders from BJP, Shiv Sena and allies have sought an appointment with the governor to protest the Rs 93-crore campaign promoting the Congress-NCP alliance prior to the Maharashtra assembly polls

The Barrage of advertisements by the Congress-led Democratic Front government, targeting voters in view of the upcoming state assembly elections, has not gone down well with the opposition, BJP and Shiv Sena-led Mahayuti. To add to the problem, the campaign has led ministers of state in the government to feel ignored by their cabinet ministers.

CM Prithviraj Chavan at the flag-hoisting ceremony at Mantralaya on Independence Day. Rs 42 crore for the campaign promoting the Congress-NCP government has already been released to the DGIPR, the publicity department he heads. Pic/Bipin Kokate
CM Prithviraj Chavan at the flag-hoisting ceremony at Mantralaya on Independence Day. Rs 42 crore for the campaign promoting the Congress-NCP government has already been released to the DGIPR, the publicity department he heads. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The state advertisements, that do not feature any individual faces from the government, are being funded through a special budget of Rs 93 crore, of which Rs 42 crore has already been released to the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR), which is headed by CM Prithviraj Chavan.

The BJP-led opposition has approached the Raj Bhavan to seek an appointment with Governor K Sankaranarayanan to register its protest over the huge spending by the government. “The ruling Congress-NCP is running a campaign similar to Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha effort.

But, it has forgotten the fact that Modi’s campaign was funded by the party,” said a senior BJP leader, adding that this was misuse of taxpayers’ money. “They should use their own party funds and utilise government money for welfare schemes,” he said. A delegation comprising senior leaders of six political outfits will meet the governor in a few days to lodge the protest, he informed.

Fight within alliance
The campaign doesn’t feature the CM or his cabinet colleagues but instead shows beneficiaries of government schemes. Upset with this decision, ministers decided to run individual campaigns using funds allocated to their own departments. In this, too, ministers have ignored their deputies as per the power sharing formula, if a Congress minister heads a department, his deputy is from the NCP and vice versa. In the departmental campaigns, Congress-led departments are ignoring NCP ministers of state, and NCP-led departments are blanking out Congress’ ministers of state.

Irked over one such drive undertaken by the rural development department - in which NCP’s cabinet minister Jayant Patil found a place, but Minister Of State Satej alias Bunty Patil of Congress was not shown the Congress minister lodged a protest with the department officials, after which his visuals were included in one of the ads. Now, other ministers of state have started raising their voice too, a senior Mantralaya official said.

Opposition says
Reacting to the government spending, Leader of Opposition in state assembly, Eknath Khadse, said, “The government has not been able to offer relief to farmers affected with hailstorm and scarcity in certain parts of the state. But, it is spending public money, keeping an eye on the elections - which is highly inappropriate. We have decided to meet the Governor on many issues, including this, to register our protest.”

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