A half-page advertisement of the Government of Kerala appearing in the English and Malayalam newspapers today proclaims:
Development on Fast track
Days of Caring ahead …
UDF Government under the leadership of Shri. Oommen Chandy swearing-in today at Raj Bhavan, 2 p.m.
The advertisement is not a simple announcement of assumption of office by a new government after the Assembly elections. It bears a political imprint. The slogans “Development on Fast track” and “Days of Caring ahead…” contain an implied suggestion that the outgoing government was slack in the areas of Development and Caring.
The Information and Public Relations Department placed these advertisements before the new government was installed.
In other words, the advertisement was placed when the LDF government was continuing as a caretaker administration. I doubt if it was issued with the knowledge and approval of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who was his own Information Minister.
Since the UDF government had not taken charge when the advertisement was placed, it cannot be accused of doing political propaganda using taxpayers’ money.
The responsibility for the advertisement, including the politically loaded copy, rests solely with the official machinery, specifically the Director of Information and Public Relations. Someone needs to tell him that he acted improperly. I don’t expect the newspapers to do this as they have derived material benefit from his act.
The Information and Public Relations Department customarily issues advertisements with political import when a ministry marks its anniversary. This year, ahead of the Assembly elections, it issued a series of advertisements about the achievements of the LDF government. Those advertisements were political propaganda carried out at the taxpayers’ expense before the poll schedule was announced and the model code of conduct came into force.
Did the Director of Information and Public Relations issue the latest advertisement to make amends for his role in that instance of misuse of public money? Since an elected government was in place when the earlier advertisements were placed, the responsibility for them rests on the political bosses of the time. In the absence of an elected government, responsibility for the new advertisement and the misuse of public money involved in it rests on the Director. He is guilty of currying the new CM's favour at the taxpayers’ expense.