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State pats self on back; not everyone agrees

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 17:11 IST

The Democratic Front (DF) government is gung-ho about completing two years in power — despite criticism from all quarters for its “below average” performance. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition has released a self-congratulatory print campaign, ‘Maharashtra Parivartan’ (Transformation).

The full-page ads in over 40 dailies released just before the elections talks of the state’s achievements and vision. Beginning November 1, the campaign ran in two parts.

Quite on the lines of the India Shining campaign released by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government before the 2004 general elections, Maharashtra Parivartan harps on the development and transformation of Mumbai during the DF governance.

However, the advertisement is already causing some heartburn in the state secretariat.

Sources in Mantralaya say the hastily brought-out print campaign has cost the government around Rs 3.5 crore.

“No tenders were invited and, as the expenditure was not budgeted, state agencies like the housing board, metropolitan development authority and industrial development corporation will have to foot the bill,” said a senior official, who did not want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s Secretary UC Sarangi refuted this claim. “The cost of the campaign was well within a crore,” he said.

A senior bureaucrat said: “This is a bad time for pat-on-the-back advertisements. It could backfire, considering the agrarian crisis and the power crunch.”

Over two years ago, then chief minister and now Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde planned a similar Maharashtra Shining campaign before the 2004 assembly polls. The campaign was spiked after media reports lambasted the government for wasting money on it.

htmetro@hindustantimes.com

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