The Madhya Pradesh Assembly today witnessed noisy scenes between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress over allegations that Rs 640 crore were spent on publicity by way of media advertisements in the last four years.
The furore started after Congress leader Jaivardhan Singh sought to know the details of Rs 640 crore spent on the government’s publicity campaigns.
Singh said that Rs 21 crore had been spent for the publicity of the Narmada Sewa Yatra but only Rs 4 crore had been spent to popularise the Bhavantar Yojana (a scheme to compensate farmers for the difference between modal price and market price of a commodity).
He alleged that no money had been spent on the publicity of the Kisan Fasal Bima Yojana’s (crop insurance scheme) either and it showed the concern the government had for farmers.
The Raghogarh MLA ridiculed the government and said that it could have started its own television channel with the Rs 640 crore.
Replying to Jaivardhan Singh, the state Legislative Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra said that the Narmada Sewa Yatra was a public movement (to protect and conserve the water body)and was meant to benefit the public.
He added that money spent on the publicity of the Bhavantar Yojana was not as big because it had just got off recently.
Mishra said that he was unable to furnish the details of the money spent on publicity initiatives as carrying such a huge quantity of documents to the House was not possible.
Mishra said he was ready for any probe on the money spent but the MLA’s queries should be specific.
This led to a heated debate between the Treasury and the Opposition.
Congress MLA Jitu Patwari accused the government of lying and said that while it had claimed yesterday that Rs 18 crore was spent on the Narama Sewa Yatra, the government today said Rs 21 crore was spent just on its publicity.
He said that the government was favouring a few journalists by way of advertisements while others were being ignored.
Amidst the din, Mishra stood up and claimed that the Congress had called journalists as ‘thieves’.
The House had to be adjourned for 10 minutes and when it resumed, Speaker Sitaram Sharma said that in case the word ‘thieves’ had been used, it should be expunged.
Outside the House, Patwari said that no Congress leader had used the term ‘thieves’ with reference to journalists and alleged that the BJP government, caught on the back foot, had made a false claim to divert attention.
He said that BJP members were getting advertisements from the government while honest journalists were not getting what was due to them.