The elections are due in Gujarat, and the BJP government is trying to cash in on every possible opportunity to advertise their work. Even a procedure as routine as hiring fix pay employees is being advertised to the hilt. On 18th May, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani gave away appointment letters to over 18000 police jawans in a mega event held at Sabaramati River Front ground in Ahmedabad.

Gujarat Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Shankar Chaudhary tweeted pictures of the event.

Alt News is in possession of a leaked document, which Ahmedabad City Police Commissioner AK Singh had sent out to Home Minister’s office listing the estimated expenditure that will be incurred for this ceremony of handing out 18000 appointment letters to police jawans.

Estimated expenditure incurred of the event where police jawans were recruited

In this leaked letter which is dated 6th May 2017, the total cost of the ceremony was estimated to be a whopping 2.27 crores. The police department estimated Rs 1.5 Cr for the Stage/Shamiana, Sound System, LED lighting etc, Rs 25 lac for food for 20000 people, Rs 27 lac for T-Shirt with logo and Rs 25 lac for sundry expenses.

Former Gujarat IPS officer Rahul Sharma posed a question on Social Media about the legitimacy and need of such unnecessary expenses, accusing the State Government of abusing public funds. He also said that it is actually a shortcoming of the Government that as many as 18000 posts, which come up to about 20% of the state’s total force, were lying vacant for so many years.

Gujarat government, in this election year, is to spend about Rs. 2.27 crores on giving appointment letters to some 18,000 constables (This is besides the invisible cost in mobilising security, social cost of causing inconvenience to people, advertising costs, if any, etc.). The cost of this publicity in this election year will be borne by the people. Clear case of abuse of government funds (read corruption) to promote the interests of the party in power. On the other hand, persons working in the traffic brigade have not been paid salary for the past four months, as reported in the press. Besides, this raises yet another question - 18,000 constables would account for some 20-25% of the police force. Why were these posts kept vacant for so long especially when there are raised concerns about security? Hasn't the government been unconcerned?

According to RTI Activist Chandravadan Dhruv, the State of Gujarat has a public debt of Rs 1,82,000 crores and such events add to the per capita debt of the state. Dhruv had also written letters to CM office and Secretariat, appealing to cancel the event so as to save Rs 2.27 Crores of tax payer’s money. However, there was no response or action from the state government on the appeal.

When Alt News spoke with Police Commissioner A K Singh, he said, “These are minimal estimated costs for the job of making arrangements, given to us by the state government. There are other costs involved like, transit costs for bringing the appointees from their respective hometowns and preparing appointment letters. However, that job has been given to some other department. The contract for food, water and venue setup has been given to Gandhi Corporation based on our past associations.

When questioned as to what was the purpose of the 25 lac worth of Sundry expenses, he said, “There are so many last minute arrangements to be made and emergency situations to be handled. This amount also includes arrangement of Mobile Toilets to be set up at the venue for the attendees.

However, on the day of the event, as reported by Divya Bhaskar, there were neither enough toilets for 20000 people nor was there enough cold drinking water to cool off people in the scorching summer of Ahmedabad. The male attendees managed to pee in the open space around ground, but the female attendees had no place to answer the nature’s call. It was also reported that the event venue was filled with plastic trash as there weren’t enough dustbins to dispose off the garbage, thus making a mockery of ‘Swachch Bharat Mission’ which is the other widely advertised initiative of Modi Govt.

Divya Bhaskar, people peeing in the open

Gujarat Government has much to answer about the need of such programs which burn off crores of rupees for an exercise as routine as appointment of people for Government jobs. The primary purpose of such events is political advertisement for BJP in election season. BJP is free to do its propaganda, but can it be done at the cost of people’s tax money?