Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, on Saturday, requested Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit to order a probe into the alleged Rs 300 Crore advertisement scam “perpetrated by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)” for using state funds to further its political goals and recover the same from it.
In a letter to the governor, the SAD president said the AAP government had earmarked Rs 750 Crore for government advertisements in the current financial year and already spent a majority of this amount. He said instead of spending this money to create awareness about government schemes in Punjab, the government had used the advertisements to promote AAP as well as its convener Arvind Kejriwal across the country.
“The government has thus not only violated the guidelines of the Supreme Court on usage of public funds for government advertisements but has also betrayed the trust of Punjabis”, he said while claiming about Rs 300 Crore had been misused by AAP in this fashion.
Badal said since the Delhi Lt Governor had already taken notice of similar wrongdoing in Delhi and ordered recovery of Rs 97 Crore, the Punjab Governor should order a probe into the entire advertising spend of the state government and quantify advertisements with political messaging so that this money could be recovered from the party. He said the government had used public funds for political advertisements in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat during the recent Assembly elections in both states.
The SAD chief said the entire process was shrouded in secrecy with the government refusing to release RTI information on the advertisement spread. He said partial information about internet spend revealed that the government spent Rs 1.75 crore on Facebook to reach out to Gujaratis exclusively from 21 September to 22 October.
“Latest Facebook trend from 12 December to 18 December indicates the AAP government in Punjab is now spending money on advertisements in Rajasthan, which goes to the polls next year,” he added.