Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman KV Thomas has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo being used in ads for Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio. In a letter to him, Thomas has questioned the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) decision to allow a private company to use the images of the PM for the advertisement of a private entity. He has asserted that the move eroded the credibility of the Prime Minister as an institution.
“As I understand, the Prime Minister’s photographs cannot be used without the permission of the PMO even by government departments. The situation now is that a video clip of considerable length of the PM is played by a private commercial entity for promoting its business,” the PAC chairman said without naming Reliance Jio. “Your government has eroded the credibility of the Prime Minister as an institution by associating with the promotion of private profit-motivated ventures,” he added.
Meantime, a report of the Comptroller & Auditor General, which took to task the Telecom Ministry for allowing an “undue advantage” of ₹3,367.29 crore to Reliance Jio Infocomm, is pending with the PAC.
Thomas, a veteran Congress leader, also alleged that the Modi government is trying to bypass the Rajya Sabha. “Your government is eager to treat every financial bill as a money bill, by getting the certificate of the Speaker. Because of the respect reposed on the institution of Speaker, your attempt is not opposed by the judiciary but the intellectuals and constitutional experts are watching you,” he said.
Along with the letter, Thomas also submitted a 17-point “charge sheet” against the Centre stating that “… Your eagerness is seen many times in your attempts to get many Bills passed without being scrutinised by the established Standing Committees.”
Further, Thomas said, by keeping core ministries such as industries, commerce, environmental and forest, coal, communication, programme implementation and steel under the Ministers of States, the PMO has acquired the powers of making policies for them and converted the parliamentary form of government into a presidential form without a constitutional amendment.