New Delhi, Feb. 21: Women and child development minister Krishna Tirath faces a fresh embarrassing inquisition over the publication of a government advertisement carrying the image of a Pakistan Air Force officer — this time in Parliament.
Two BJP MPs have demanded a discussion during the Parliament session starting Monday on the error that snowballed into a controversy amid revelations that Tirath had violated government norms and rules in issuing the ad.
The BJPs deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde, and Raipur MP Ramesh Bais plan to corner Tirath on the release of the erroneous ad, which had embarrassed the Prime Minister into apologising.
The minister must explain how she runs a ministry without any control over what it releases in the form of public advertisements. We will demand her resignation, Bais said over the phone from Raipur.
On January 25, the ministry had issued a set of advertisements in a news daily on the occasion of the National Girl Child Day.
One of the ads carried a photograph of former Pakistan Air Force chief Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed alongside images of Indian heroes like cricketers Kapil Dev and Virender Sehwag and sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
The ad triggered a media storm, with television channels conducting studio discussions and debates on the subject amid questions on how the error was committed.
But answers to that question exposed a slew of deliberate irregularities in the manner in which the entire advertisement project was managed by Tirath.
The ministry did not seek approval from either the Prime Minister or the Speaker before using their images in the advertisements — in violation of government rules.
Instead of issuing the advertisement to a range of publications based on their circulation — as is required by government rules — the ministry picked one publication to print the advertisements.
Tirath had rejected six advertisements proposed by the governments advertising wing and Unicef.
But their content was lifted and handed to the news daily, which was in turn allowed to fine-tune the governments advertisements. Tirath has not yet explained these irregularities.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has issued a notice to the ministry on the MPs request for a grilling session.
The ministry, in its preliminary response to the secretariat, has argued that the dust be allowed to settle on the controversy since the government had apologised.
But the BJP leaders said they were unwilling to accept the response. Instead of the Prime Minister apologising, the minister, Krishna Tirath, should resign. Given the history of our relations with the Pakistani armed forces, this ad has hurt the sentiments of people, Bais said.