Poll panel asks officers to pay for Commonwealth Games ads (Lead)

March 7th, 2009 - 10:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) The Election Commission Saturday asked the government to recover the cost of full-page newspaper advertisements about the Commonwealth Games 2010 from the officers who approved the media blitz, saying it violated the model of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls.
The poll panel gave the instructions to the central and Delhi governments over the advertisements that appeared in several newspapers Friday. It is “a clear violation of the model code of conduct”, the Election Commission said. It also sought an action-taken report by noon Monday.

The advertisement lists the achievements of the central and Delhi governments on the development work carried out for the Games in the capital including the building of 24 flyovers, improving 1,285 km of roads and inducting 5,000 low-floor buses.

“The Election Commission has taken a serious note of the full page advertisements,” the poll panel said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ravi Shanker Prasad told reporters here that his party had filed the complaint against the “abuse of public money to further the government’s image”.

The Election Commission has asked the cabinet secretary, the secretary (youth affairs and sports) and the chief secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi to provide “the name and address of the organisation which published the advertisements, the names of the officers/persons who authorised the release of the advertisements; and the total expenditure incurred in the publication of the advertisements in all the newspapers”.

When contacted, Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said he was unaware of any such directive from the commission. “I have absolutely no idea of what you are saying, I have not received any notice.”

A communique from the Election Commission said: “Taking a serious view, the commission has further directed that the total cost of the advertisements should be recovered from the personal accounts of the officers/persons responsible for the release/publication of the said advertisements,” it said.

“There was no mention about the authority which authorised the issue of the advertisement. This is a clear violation of the model code of conduct, which prohibits publication of the achievements of the governments at the cost of the public exchequer,” the commission said.

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