Lucknow/Kolkata, Sep 12 (PTI) The BJP's rival parties on Sunday took a swipe at it over the use of a purported image of a Kolkata flyover in an Uttar Pradesh government advertisement on economic progress in the state under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, with the TMC claiming that it was an "acknowledgment" of the "great work" done by CM Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.
The Indian Express, which had carried the advertisement, had, however, issued a corrigendum saying the wrong image was inadvertently included in the cover collage of the advertorial produced by the marketing department of the newspaper.
The advertisement titled ''Transforming Uttar Pradesh under Yogi Adityanath'' showed an image of a flyover painted in blue-and-white, colours synonymous with West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress, along with high-rises and industries juxtaposed below a cut-out of Yogi Adityanath.
"Before 2017, UP was not taken seriously with regard to investment, but in his four-and-a-half years rule, that negative perception has been broken and in 2020, it has emerged as the second-largest economy in the country," the message in the advertisement read.
TMC MPs such as Derek O' Brien, Abhishek Banerjee, Mahua Moitra and Firhad Hakim ridiculed the BJP over the episode, claiming that the saffron party has now indirectly accepted the "development spree" under the Mamata Banerjee government and even tried to appropriate it.
"The state government (of UP) has to be responsible, there is no passing the buck," TMC national spokesperson and leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien said, claiming that the newspaper concerned was put under pressure to release a statement taking the blame for the goof up.
O'Brien said he has been with an advertising agency for several years and can vouch that the client has to approve any advertisement before being released in the media.
"This is a blunder. The only positive part of it is that they (BJP) are acknowledging the great work done by the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal," he said at a press conference in Kolkata, adding, "Imitation is the best form of flattery." TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee tweeted: "Transforming UP for @myogiadityanath means stealing images from infrastructure seen in Bengal under @MamataOfficial's leadership and using them as his own! Looks like the 'DOUBLE ENGINE MODEL' has MISERABLY FAILED in BJP's strongest state and now stands EXPOSED for all (sic)!" Reacting to the advertisement, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is touring UP, alleged that the BJP government is "making false claims of development by putting fake pictures of flyovers and factories".
"There is no understanding of the issues of the public nor there is any link with it. The government is only about making false advertisements and castles in the air," she said in a Hindi tweet.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that till now the BJP government was "falsely publicising" the works of the SP government as its own.
"The BJP must open an 'International Institute of False Publicity'," he tweeted in Hindi.
In a jibe at the BJP, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh tweeted: "Have never seen nor heard such development. The Kolkata flyover has been dragged to Lucknow by our Chief Minister Adityanath jee...".
Dismissing the criticism, UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi in a Hindi tweet said, "The newspaper @IndianExpress has itself accepted that there has been a mistake on the part of the newspaper's marketing department, due to which the advertisement got published. However, we are not experts in advertising as the #AAP is." The Indian Express, which had carried the advertisement, issued a corrigendum saying, "A wrong image was inadvertently included in the cover collage of the advertorial on Uttar Pradesh produced by the marketing department of the newspaper. The error is deeply regretted and the image has been removed in all digital editions of the paper." Both, Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal and the Director of Information and Public Relations, Government of UP, Shishir retweeted the above corrigendum issued by the newspaper.
The West Bengal BJP hit back at the Trinamool Congress saying even if the image was indeed that of Maa flyover, the TMC government does not have any other infrastructural development to flaunt.
"Several expressways have been built under the Adityanath government in UP. In comparison, West Bengal has witnessed several flyovers collapsing in the last few years," West Bengal BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said.
Even if it is indeed the image of Maa flyover, it was nothing but a mistake and does not take away Adityanath's credit for accelerating UP's growth, he said.
Addressing the press conference, O'Brien, however, claimed that the TMC and Mamata Banerjee are the only serious challengers to the BJP in national politics and people believe that Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah can be defeated in the 2024 Lok Sabha election under her leadership.
Stating that Yogi Adityanath, whose state Uttar Pradesh goes to polls in 2022, had addressed 11 rallies in West Bengal during the assembly elections held earlier this year, O'Brien claimed that his claims of the benefits of a "double engine government" (same party rule in Centre as well as state) have been proved to be hollow and false.