The Congress on Thursday slammed the BJP government at the Centre citing a finance ministry order dated May 19, claiming that publicity funds meant for ministries had been placed at the disposal of the Central Bureau of Communications (CBC). It also alleged that the government will use the CBC along with the CBI and the ED to spearhead its election campaign for 2024.
In a tweet, attaching several documents, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “Parliament votes budgets for all departments and ministries of the Government of India. Each programme or scheme has a distinct Budget Head. Now on May 19, 2023 in an unprecedented move, the Ministry of Finance has ordered that 40 per cent of the funds voted by Parliament for ‘Advertising and Publicity’ in various Departments or Ministries should be placed at the disposal of the CBC in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.”
Questioning the move, Ramesh, who is also the party’s communication in-charge, said that the CBC’s budget for 2023-24 approved by Parliament is Rs 200 crore. “With the May 19, 2023 order of the Ministry of Finance the budget for CBC for the current year will suddenly zoom to more than Rs 750 crore. Clearly this CBC (along with CBI and ED) will be the spearhead of the Modi government’s election campaign for 2024,” he said.
The Congress leader said, “The CBC is a super czar dancing to the tune of the PM urf Prachar Mantri. But this propaganda machine didn’t have enough funds. Now with this surgical strike, just like the 40 per cent commission Sarkar dislodged in Karnataka, the Modi government usurps 40 per cent of funds already allocated to ministries by Parliament and enriches the CBC. Is this not de facto misappropriation?
“This directive is a further subversion of Parliament’s Constitutional obligations. It not only ignores the expertise of specific ministries but it wholly undermines the sanctity of the Budget voted by Parliament. Normally, the government of India is referred to as the Central government Under Modi, it has become a Central (ised) Propaganda Machine,” Ramesh, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, said.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is yet to react to the charges of the Congress leader.