Finance minister P Chidambaram may be tightening his grip over government finances to reign in fiscal deficit but he could be more than generous in granting Rs. 200 crore fillip for UPA's image building in the crucial election year.
Finance ministry is said to have agreed to Rs. 200 crore special allocations to the government ministries for highlighting achievements of the UPA government in the last nine years, and an announcement in this regard is expected in the budget for 2013-14.
The UPA policy managers believe that the government has been hit by negative perception in the minds of people because of social activist Anna Hazare's campaign against corruption resulting in the government's achievements on social welfare measures been side-tracked.
"The per capita income of an Indian has more than doubled in the UPA regime," said a senior planning commission functionary and claimed that benefit of rapid economic growth has reached the lowest levels of the society.
But, in the same refrain the functionary admitted that the government has failed to project success of its "inclusive growth" agenda. It was because the government spent most of its three years on fighting allegations of corruption.
It is now time for some course correction.
The Planning Commission, which allocates money to different ministries, is expected to give around Rs. 200 crore for a campaign to showcase the achievements of the UPA government and related benefits for common people.
The allocation would be about four-fold increase in the government's spending on publicity and UPA managers claim it is required in the crucial election year when the opposition parties would be slamming the government on every front.
The money would reflect in the budget of the information and broadcasting ministry and the ministries have been asked the work out the out-reach plan to be executed from the next financial year. "There would be a special component on projecting the government's direct benefit scheme," an official said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the recent Congress Chintan Shivar had expressed his concern over the failure to project the government's achievements and correct public perception. The Rs. 200 crore plan would try to set the record straight on some of the aspects raised by him.