The full page advertisements of the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government appearing in Punjabi and Hindi vernaculars in Punjab over the past three days has set alarm bells ringing in state Congress.
The Congress’ PR department, on the orders of state unit president Captain Amarinder Singh, is now on the job to find out as to how much AAP has spent for the advertisements.
Sources in the Congress said Captain Amarinder Singh is particular on the issue and has directed his PR team to find out the exact details of the expenditure incurred by AAP on the ‘advertorials’ highlighting the Delhi government’s ‘achievements’ in its first year in power.
“AAP, which initially branded itself as a party with a difference and had been maintaining a distance from publicity-driven traditional politics, is now going all out to woo voters in Punjab. Captain has highlighted this and will soon be coming out on the issue,” the source said.
“There is no logic in the Delhi government’s achievements being highlighted in the Chandigarh edition newspapers, especially those in Punjabi and Hindi. It is clearly to target voters for the Punjab assembly polls in 2017. It is a trick played by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal but then he should stop criticising other parties and claiming that AAP is the only one with a difference. The professionals in the field can make out that these are paid ads but a common reader cannot make them out. Especially the ones those have appeared in Punjabi and Hindi papers, it is clearly to fool the people,” said a source in the Congress PR department.
“Kejriwal has very conveniently criticised every party for putting photos of its leaders in ads and wasting public money. Now, since three days his ads are occupying two full pages of every publication that too with the articles that appear as news stories. There are huge photographs of him and his deputy Manish Sisodia. Punjabi papers have been chosen deliberately, which is obvious as polls are coming but then AAP should stop claiming itself to be the cleanest of all. It is doing what other parties have done. Our initial estimates say crores have been spent in three days and we are yet to find out exact amount,” the source said.
AAP’s national spokesperson Sanjay Singh however said that there was nothing wrong in highlighting the achievements of the AAP government. “It is not traditional politics. We just want our work to be highlighted in other states including Punjab,” he said, adding, “We never criticised any party for spending money on advertisements or getting photos of their leaders published”.
Punjab AAP convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur first claimed ignorance on the advertisements but later declined to comment. “I am not aware of any such ads but maybe the paper that goes to Delhi, comes here too,” he claimed. When told about the different editions of a newspaper, he said, “I would not like to comment on it. Yes, we were against publicity-based politics and AAP still believes it is complete wastage of money”.