The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s budget for publicity has significantly gone up in the last two years. From mere Rs 3 crore in the year 2016-17, the budget went upto Rs 155 crore this year. It was revised from the earlier allocation of Rs 140 crore earmarked for the year 2017-18.

Special Correspondent

For the current financial year, the budget has further gone up by Rs 27 crore to Rs 182 crore in the year 2018-19.

Four states including Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab went to polls last year while in 2018, a clutch of states like Tripura, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh go to polls.

Earlier RTI reply revealed Modi government spent a whopping ₹3,755 crore on its publicity in three-and-a-half years till October 2017.

The expenditure on advertisements from April 2014 to October 2017 on electronic and print media and outdoor publicity is ₹37,54,06,23,616, according to the reply given by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The application was filed by Greater Noida-based social activist Ramveer Tanwar.

The Central government, the reply says, spent over ₹1,656 crore on electronic media advertisements, including community radio, digital cinema, Internet, SMS and television. In the print media, the government spent more than ₹1,698 crore.

Outdoor advertisements, which include hoardings, posters, booklets and calendars, accounted for over ₹399 crore, the reply reveals.

The amount spent on publicity blitz is more than the yearly budget allocated to some key ministries and the government’s flagship programmes. The government’s allocation for “pollution abatement” in the last three years was only ₹56.8 crore.

In 2016, an RTI query filed by Tanwar had revealed that the Centre spent over ₹1,100 crore between June 1, 2014 and August 31, 2016, on advertisements featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The expenditure was only for television, Internet and other electronic media and did not include expenditure on outdoor and print advertisements.

In 2015, another RTI reply revealed that the Centre spent nearly ₹8.5 crore on newspaper advertisements for the PM’s monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ till July 2015.