BJP ad campaign: A plunder of the exchequer, says Congress

NEW DELHI, FEB. 9. The Congress today welcomed the new Chief Election Commissioner, T.S. Krishnamurthy's remarks that political parties, especially those in power, should observe the spirit of the model code of conduct.

Once again criticising the media campaign unleashed by the Vajpayee Government, the Congress said what the Central Government was doing "is not only politically improper but outrageously immoral."

"We believe the Government of India must desist from the practice. Nobody in power seems to learn that people are never impressed by mega advertisements on the eve of elections," the Congress chief spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said.

On the model code of conduct, Mr. Reddy said that in the normal course, when the elections were held as per schedule, the code came into operation after the announcement of the poll schedule. In the present case, however, the code should be deemed to have taken effect from the day the Cabinet decided to dissolve the Lok Sabha and go in for early elections.

He said that according to one estimate, more than Rs. 500 crores were being spent by the Government and public sector undertakings on media campaign. Strangely, even the Planning Commission, an advisory body, had placed advertisements. These amounted to a "rapacious plunder of the public exchequer ... not bungling but swindling."

'Temple on BJP's agenda'

Referring to the Ayodhya issue, the Congress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of indulging in "doublespeak" by referring to the Ram temple issue as an unfinished project.

The Congress spokesperson, Anand Sharma, said the fact that both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister had raised the issue showed that construction was on the BJP's agenda even though the National Democratic Alliance agenda did not include it.

He said it appeared that both these leaders were aware that the "feel-good balloon" could not help the BJP in the elections and so they had returned to the old agenda of temple.

"There is no difference between Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani. Both belong to the same school of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The only difference is that they use different language to mislead the people," Mr. Sharma said. The BJP's allies should clarify their stand since the party seemed to have its stamp on each and every decision, he added.

Asked about the Congress stand on the temple issue, Mr. Sharma said the court verdict should be awaited and should be acceptable to all.

Even if there was a solution acceptable to the contesting parties, it should be only through court.

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