Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been served notice by its own government in Delhi for ₹ 163.62 crore spent allegedly on political advertisements passed off as government messages.
AAP has to pay up within 10 days, warns the recovery notice issued by the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP), or its office will be sealed.
“A final opportunity is hereby given to reimburse the amount of ₹ 163,61,88,265/- (Rs One hundred and sixty three crores, sicty one lakh, eighty eight thouand, two hundred and sixty five only) by depositing the said amount in the account details given below within 10 days of issuing of this notice, failing which further necessary action as per law will be taken in this matter,” the notice read.
While ₹ 99,31,10,053 (Rs 99.31 crore) is the amount spent on advertisements till March 31, 2017, the remaining ₹ 64,30,78,212 (Rs 64.31 crore) is the penal interest on this amount.
The development comes nearly a month after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena initiated action against the Arvind Kejriwal-led party accusing it of running political advertisements it the guise of government advertisements.
AAP, reacting to the Lt Governor’s December 20 order asking for ₹ 97 crore to be recovered from the party, said he has no power to pass such orders.
AAP’s chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj had dismissed the Lieutenant Governor’s order as a “new love letter”. “The BJP is flustered that we have become a national party and wrested power from it in the MCD. LG sahab is doing everything in accordance with the BJP’s directions and that is troubling the people of Delhi. The more worried Delhi’s people are, the happier the BJP gets,” Bhardwaj had claimed.
The Lt Governor’s directions would not stand in the eyes of law, he had said.
From time to time, AAP has been accused of spending taxpayers’ money on political advertisements. Not only in Delhi but similar spending was also seen in the case of the AAP-led Punjab government as well. Before Gujarat Assembly Elections, OpIndia reported that Punjab Government paid for Facebook ads targeting audiences from Gujarat. Over one crore was spent on such ads.