A report compiled by the Madhya Pradesh government in response to a question raised by Congress MLA Bala Bachchan in the state assembly, has shed light on a possible mismanagement in awarding government advertisements. It turns out ads worth Rs 14 crores were given to websites run by journalists or their relatives from the state.

Around 234 websites got advertisements ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 21.7 lakh in four years, and many were run by people linked to journalists working for prominent publications and some were also linked to people connected with the ruling BJP.

b’Most websites are run by relatives of journalists’

Most of the news websites have not provided any description or contact details, as this report by The Indian Express points out. It also pointed out that: 

  • Out of 26 websites that got more than Rs 10 lakh, 18 were run by journalists or relatives of journalists, while 81 such websites run by relatives of journalists got ads worth Rs 5-10 lakhs.
  • 33 of the websites that got advertisements worth lakhs were found to be operating out of state-allotted homes in Bhopal.
  • Rakesh Agnihotri, a journalist working for the Swaraj Express channel, admitted that he was related to people running two separate websites called Failaan and Indian News & View.
  • On being questioned about a website MP News Online, which is run by journalist Gireesh Sharma’s wife Mini Sharma that got Rs 17 lakhs in advertisements, Gireesh Sharma said, “It may be unethical but there is nothing illegal in it.”
b’Websites like Rashtravad (left) and Deshbhakti (right) run the same content under different namesxc2xa0′
  • Ashwini Rai, who is listed as running a web site which got the maximum Rs 21.7 lakhs in ads, said that he works for the BJP and has nothing to with the website, which is run by someone else.
  • While some like Raghavendra Singh said that they did not ask for anything and took what the government gave, others like Dainik Bhaskar journalist Rajesh Pandeya said that his website is not getting ads any more.
  • Websites like deshbhakti.com, rashtrawad.com, prakalp.com and others can be seen as carrying the same content under different names.
b’Congress MLA Bala Bachchanxc2xa0| Source: Indian National Congress’
  • Madhya Pradesh commissioner of public relations Anupam Rajan claimed that the ads had been given on the basis on the number of hits it gets. And that they couldn’t do anything if the websites shut down