Saturday, January 30, 2010
KRISHNA TIRATH MAY BE SACKED?
30 Jan 2010
MINISTER TO GET THE BOOT FOR ADVT FIASCO
From Our Delhi Bureau
NEW DELHI: Krishna Tirath, a union minister of state holding independent charge of women and child welfare ministry, is most likely to get the boot whenever the ministry is reshuffled. Reason: An advertisement fiasco last Sunday that made the Prime Minister's office (PMO) apologise as it contained a photo of a retired Pakistan air force chief for no rhyme or reason.
Inquiries revealed that a close relation of the minister was head of an advertising agency which prepared the controversial advertisement and four half page advertisements costing Rs 80 lakhs were released to a particular English daily recommended by that relation.
PMO sources said Dr Manmohan Singh is quite angry at the minister's personal interest in getting not one but four half-page government advertisements released to the Delhi daily in its special 3-page supplement on the International Women's Day.
She did not get the marching orders immediately as the PM ordered an inquiry to get the responsibility first fixed. Moreover, he has the habit "to wait and then act." Tirath is a second term MP from Delhi and was earlier an MLA.
Since all the four advertisements were released by the Directorate of Advertisement and Visual Publicity (DAVP) that operates under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, questions were initially raised as to how it cleared the controversial advertisement without meticulously verifying the contents as it is supposed to do.
DAVP, however, was absolved after it showed to I&B Minister Ambika Soni two letters received by it from the Women and Child Welfare Ministry, the second one specifically stating that the minister has seen the advertisements and cleared them for immediate release.
Soni briefed the Prime Minister that DAVP was not to be blamed as it neither prepared the advertisements, nor did it upcheck the contents as Tirath's ministry wanted them released forthwith. The ministry's orders came on Saturday last week when no time was left as the advertisements were to appear immediately next day.
An inquiry ordered by PMO showed that the said advertisements were released to only one daily and they were conceptualised in tandem with that daily by a private advertising agency. The CEO (chief executive officer) of the agency happens to be a close relative of Minister Tirath.
The agency and the daily involved in preparation of the advertisements appear to have picked up the wrong photograph of a former Pakistan air force chief while searching on Internet for a retired Indian Air Force chief. And, since the DAVP was ordered to issue the release order as the minister has cleared the contents, nobody checked insertion of a wrong photograph.
Sources said the PMO's permission is mandatory for using the Prime Minister's name and photograph in any government advertisement, the PMO had to rush with the apology, though it was not at fault as its permission was not sought at all for the particular objectionable advertisement.
The ministry had to route the advertisements through DAVP just because of the strict rules that the ministries should not release any advertisement on its own as they used to do in the past but only through DAVP.
For that matter, the rules also provide that no private agency should be engaged for preparation of a government advertisement. Either the ministry concerned should prepare it on its own or get it prepared by DAVP.
Tirath's ministry tried to wriggle out on this score by claiming that no money has been paid to any agency for designing the advertisements and that they were designed by the daily's staff and the minister's approval was taken before asking DAVP to issue the release orders.