Anita Joshua

Asks them to recover the cost from personal accounts of those who released it

Seeks names of officers who authorised release

Advertisement does not indicate who placed it

NEW DELHI: Taking a serious view of the full-page advertisement on the Commonwealth Games that was placed in major newspapers on Friday, the Election Commission of India on Saturday asked the Centre and the State government to recover the cost from the personal accounts of those who released it.

In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and the Chief Secretary of Delhi government, the Commission sought the names of the officers who authorised the release of these advertisements and details of the total expenditure incurred on them.

“The total cost of the advertisements should be recovered from the personal accounts of the officers and persons responsible for the release of the advertisements,” the letter said. Further, according to the Commission, this is a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct which prohibits publication of the achievements of governments at the cost of the public exchequer. The Centre and the State government have been asked to submit a compliance report by Monday.

The advertisement – placed in the run-up to the Queen’s Baton Relay scheduled for Sunday – sought to highlight the promise that the Games holds for Indians; listing the infrastructural facilities that have come up in preparation for the 2010 event. The Election Commission, officials said, took suo motu cognisance of the advertisement.

While the advertisement issued on Friday detailed the facilities – including 24 flyovers, 75 aerobridge airport, 1,285 km of better roads, 5,000 low-floor buses, 80 new metro destinations, 11 world-class sports venues and thousands of job opportunities – it makes no mention of the Queen’s Baton Relay except an oblique reference stating ‘Come Out and Celebrate.’ The relay makes an appearance in the follow-up advertisement issued on Saturday detailing the event.

And the first advertisement does not indicate who placed it. On Saturday, however, the advertisement clearly specifies that it has been issued by the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games. The advertisement account of the Games is with JWT – one of the two advertising companies selected to showcase the Congress campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

On Friday, the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner; drawing attention to the advertisement and alleging that the Delhi government was trying to promote its achievements under the garb of the Commonwealth Games.