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Selective advertising being used as political bribery: Jaitley

New Delhi: Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday raised questions over “selective and excessive” advertising by a state government and wondered if it amounts to “political bribery”, a veiled attack on the Aam Aadmi Party government.
“If today any state gets the right to disburse excessive and selective advertising, a trend which is being witnessed for the first time, under which friends are rewarded and opponents punished.
“So the power of selective and excessive advertising is used…. I raised a question – will such advertising become political bribery or political incentive?” he asked. Jaitley, who holds the Finance and I&B portfolios, did not name any party but his remarks come at a time when the BJP has been attacking the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi over its advertisement budget.
Speaking at an event organised by RSS linked Inderprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra (IVSK) here, Jaitley said that he used to feel that the “era of censorship or pinching pockets had ended”, but the first symptoms of a new method are being witnessed in the country.
Jaitley said that he felt that if this experiment of “selective and excessive advertising” succeeds, then “all states will do it”.
“And those people, who are critics of the ideology which I support, their stunning silence is most eloquent,” Jaitley said, adding that a debate is needed on the issue.
Referring to the Constituent Assembly, he said the two media personalities in it – Ramnath Goenka and D B Gupta -had emphasised on aspects related to the need to preserve commercial independence of media.
The Finance Minister, however, also said that the idea of any curbs on the freedom of media has been rejected by society and in this age, because of technology, this is not even possible. “If the Emergency, instead of 1975, had been brought in 2016, technology itself would have defeated it,” he said.
The minister further said the strategic alliance between the BJP, AGP and the BPF highlighted this historical blunder of the Congress.
“In Tamil Nadu, it was a laggard in the DMK-Congress alliance. Its poor strike rate pulled the DMK alliance down. In West Bengal, the alliance with the Left was an ideological compromise. It proved counter-productive,” he said.
On the other hand, Jaitley said the assembly elections mark a significant geographical expansion for the BJP. “There were not many takers in 2008 for the idea that BJP can form its own government in Karnataka. Karnataka was then seen as a gateway to the South. We are now on a come-back trail in Karnataka.
We have since, a coalition government in Andhra Pradesh and are increasingly pushing the politics of Kerala to a tri-polar position,” he said.
Observing that BJP is “unquestionably the largest party” in Bihar, he said, “in our eastward movement, we will now form a government with a comfortable majority in Assam.
We are already a part of the two coalition governments in the North East and have made a sizeable seat and vote presence in West Bengal. We seek to work in cooperation with the Governments of the regional parties.”  (PTI)

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