The Punjab government is on a massive publicizing spree of its so called successes of the past six months, across the nation. Every news channel, in its coveted prime time, propagates that there has been a revolution in governance in Punjab, after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) headed by Arvind Kejriwal came to power in the state. This duplicitous assertion is not at all surprising! Kejriwal has mastered the art of self propagation. Although he is the CM of a city state with abridged powers, still his huge publicity budget is at par with that of the Central Government of a humongous country like India.
As per a reply, sent by the state government of Punjab, to a Right to Information query- after coming to power in Punjab, the AAP government in the state spent Rs 37.36 crore on advertisements in news channels, radio and newspapers. Interestingly, the list of publications that received advertisements from the AAP government in Punjab features many Gujarat-based regional newspapers including Divya Bhaskar, Kutchmitra, Sandesh and Phulchhab. Similarly, the list of TV news channels that received advertisements from the AAP government in Punjab during the same period are TV9 Gujarati, Zee 24 Kalak, Sandesh News, ABP Asmita, News18 Gujarati, VTV-Gujarati and Janta TV.
The question is why is the Punjab government issuing advertisements in Gujrati channels and newspapers ? The answer is not difficult. It is only to satisfy the electoral lust of Mr. Kejriwal. He is acting callously and illegally in not only spending public money for political reasons but also totally unethically. But ethics and Kejriwal are antonyms. AAP will justify this by saying that placing advertisements in channels and publications that cater to audiences outside the state is a “routine affair,” and past governments have also done it. Some other state governments also publish their advertisements in Punjabi channels and newspapers and over the last few months, Punjab newspapers have had advertisements of Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments, among others.
How can Kejriwal -who had promised the’’ most honest’’ governance hypocritically exemplify the same ‘’chalta hai ‘’and ‘’everybody does it’’ attitude? After promising the electorate to be a paragon of virtue, and dubbing every other politician, political party , businessman a thief , how come Kejriwal has joined the same bandwagon while still having the temerity to talk about his unimpeachable honesty ?
With Kejariwal absorbed in the forthcoming Gujarat and Himanchal Pradesh assembly elections, the Delhi and Punjab governments ruled by his party, are splurging money to befool people through false narratives of providing corruption-free government even when, currently, his Delhi government is allegedly involved in the infamous excise scam etc, amongst others.
The unfortunate part of politics today is that anybody can tell preposterous lies, befool and dupe the masses with false narratives and elicit votes and succeed in their unscrupulous quest for power. This is true for almost all political parties but Mr. Kejriwal’s dramatics make him the undisputed champion. The tragic irony is that Mr. Kejriwal piggy backed on the anti-corruption movement, won friends, but junked the movement at the first available opportunity and jettisoned everything about Lok Pal and the Lok Pal act. He not only got mired in corruption himself but one of his closest ministers in Delhi is already behind bars , while the other is biding his turn. Now, by spending public money running into hundreds of crores of rupees, Mr. Kejariwal is busy creating a totally false narrative of good governance and honesty.
According to media reports, in Punjab, a state run by proxy by Mr. Kejriwal and his cronies has already started showing signs of an increased crime rate. This has put the AAP government there in the dock. It all commenced with a violent clash in the name of Khalistan on April 29 in Patiala between two rival groups, leaving two people, including a cop injured. Thereafter, on May 9, a rocket propelled grenade was fired at the state police intelligence wing headquarters in Mohali. This incident was unprecedented and shook the law and order machinery. Immediately afterwards, on May 29, a popular singer, Sidhu Moosewala, was brutally murdered after the state government had curtailed his security. The famously talented singer’s murder sent shockwaves across the entire country.
The Punjab government was unmasked further when some of its MLAs and ministers were found facing corruption charges. The government was caught in another embarrassing situation recently, following the release of an audio clip in which the Food Processing Minister was purportedly heard “spelling out a plan to trap some contractors to extort money”.
The Opposition parties in Punjab allege that Kejriwal had promised zero tolerance for corruption but he himself is immersed in the cesspool of corruption and the hapless common man continues to suffer in government offices at the hands of corrupt officials. Sadly, the common man now has to dole out twice the bribe amount to get even the most mundane work done!
The irony is that despite these glaring facts and rampant malfeasance prevailing in Kejriwal run governments, still efforts are ceaseless to con the suffering public. Crores are being spent on the media to propagate Kejariwal’s ‘integrity.’ The Gandhian credo ‘’My life is my message’’ is audaciously negated by the likes of Kejriwal because neither his work nor his conduct speak – so projecting himself as honest is his only recourse. The public must expose this charade and ensure that honesty, integrity and accountability define the government they elect and that governance is not limited to semantics only.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey retired from the Indian Administrative Service. He has an established record of raising his voice against corruption in public life. Views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)