Sharpening its attack on the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday demanded to know the source of its Rs. 400-crore budget for “branding” the party and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“If the BJP spends Rs. 400 crore on advertisements and public relations alone then how much will it spend on the entire [election] campaign?” AAP leader Ashutosh asked on Thursday. “Where has the money come from? Is it black money?”
The BJP has commissioned ad gurus Prasoon Joshi (McCann Worldgroup), Piyush Pandey (individually) and Sam Balsara (Media Communications) for branding the party and its prime ministerial candidate, provoking strong reactions from the AAP.
AAP leaders said the focus on Mr. Modi would continue in the coming days as they believe the Congress has already lost the race. Mr. Modi’s claims of good and clean governance will be the target.
“It is not that secularism is an insignificant issue for us. But Modi’s claim is not about being secular, but being a man of governance and development. We are challenging that,” said party spokesperson Dilip K. Pandey. “We are putting forth facts that suggest a completely different picture on the issue of governance or absence of it in Gujarat,” he said.
On Wednesday, a photograph showing Mr. Modi using an Adani plane went viral on the net with hundreds of AAP followers questioning the connection.
Earlier, the AAP had tried to corner Mr. Modi on the issue of gas pricing and alleged that he was “silent” as he had close relations with business leaders like RIL chief Mukesh Ambani and the Adani Group that is into logistics, energy and agribusiness. “Modi’s silence on gas pricing will continue on our agenda,” said an AAP source.
Attacking “crony capitalism,” AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal had challenged Mr. Modi on the gas pricing issues asking him whether he would reduce prices which are set to increase from April 1 if he forms government at the Centre. The UPA has decided to hike gas prices from April 1.
With a string of tweets using hashtag # WillNamoAnswer, AAP chief spokesman Yogendra Yadav asked Mr. Modi: “What is the exact relationship between Modi and Adani Group? How has Adani Group become super rich in just 10 years? Why are the BJP and Modi silent on gas pricing scam by the Congress? Why does the media not ask them questions about it? Where does money for NaMo campaign come from? Shouldn’t the BJP be transparent about its funding? “What is the record of Modi government on farmers’ suicide, infant mortality, quality of schooling?”
In another tweet he asks: “Why does Babulal Bokharia continue in Modi’s cabinet despite being convicted? Can we trust NaMo to end criminalisation?”
It was reported in 2007 that the Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Arjun Modhvadia used the Right to Information Act to find that “of the 100 flights that Mr. Modi took since 2003, 68 were in private aircraft owned or hired by Reliance, Adani Group and others.”
(With additional reporting by Mohammad Ali)