The New Indian Express misleads readers with overstated electricity bills of selective politicians

At the outset, I would like to clarify that electricity bill of a minister (whether he is CM or PM or just an MLA) is a non-issue.  Indian mainstream media often creates stories instead of covering facts.

OpIndia.com has already covered this issue of misreporting of Arvind Kejriwal’s bill in little more detail here.

Rather than leaving this issue aside, The New Indian Express has gone a step further and tried their luck at spreading canards. They wrote an article with half-baked truths about the electricity bills of some central ministers and other political leaders. They tried to make the article neutral by including Rahul Gandhi and PM Modi’s electricity bill as well. They also tried to make it a well-researched article and attached the electricity bills as proof. But then the reporter had a brain fade. He/She forgot to double-check the amounts or probably the reporter has never seen or understood his/her own electricity bills.  And the reporter also forgot to attach Arvind Kejriwal’s bill in the article.

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Let’s ignore the last statement as I believe that the whole purpose of doing this story is to justify the huge electricity bill of AAM CM.

Let me simplify this. I am going to examine some of the electricity bills provided in the Indian express article and then will cross reference it from Delhi Municipal Council Website.

Some other news portals have gone ahead and have done a similar comparison (NewsX story here) but they all are fed from the common source. And as I mentioned earlier, this was the half-baked Indian express story.

Let’s take Arun Jaitley’s electricity bill of 3,62,938. Let’s see what The New Indian Express has written in their article

Not just Arvind Kejriwal, other top politicians from different political parties consume electricity bills exceeding lakhs of rupees.

Initially it came to light that the electricity bill of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Civil Lines residence was about Rs 91,000 for the months of April and May, according to an RTI reply.

Interestingly, it also came to light that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electricity bill is around Rs 21 lakh and finance minister Arun Jaitley’s around Rs 3.62 lakh.

For Arvind Kejriwal’s bill, it’s clearly mentioned that it was for period of May and June. However, the article doesn’t mention the period of the bill for PM and Finance minister. Further, quite amusingly, a copy of the PM’s Rs 21 lakh bill has not been given. Considering that this was the most outlandish claim, this proof should have been furnished, especially since other proofs were given.

Coming back to Arun Jaitley’s bill. Here are the facts –

TNIE mentions that the bill is for 3.62 Lakh. They have not mentioned the period. And that is the mistake or rather the half-truth. The actual bill for the billing cycle of June 2015 is only Rs. 33471.7. And the reason why the bill is showing Rs 3.62 lakhs as payable is, there is an arrears amount of 318008.73/- (For Oct-14 to Apr-15)  and a late payment surcharge of 11458.45/-.  Here is the relevant extract from Arun Jaitley’s bill:

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In the main article, TNIE put a screenshot of only the top half of the bill, and only gave a link to the entire bill, hoping that the readers would also not check.

TNIE has made the same mistakes of overstating the electricity bills of other leaders. I have summarized it in the table below. Uma Bharti’s actual bill is only Rs 7788.07 which is very common for a middle class family. I have received a bill of Rs 7400 for this billing cycle. However,The New Indian express has reported a bill of 1.2 lakhs.

Arvind Kejriwal’s consumer number is not known. In fact, AAP can do a similar analysis and publish the consumer number to put a full stop on the discussion. But expecting our political leaders to be logic is a wishful thinking.

 

Minister Name Bill (as quoted by The New Indian Express) (Rs) Actual Bill (excluding arrears) (Rs) Bill Copy Consumer No.
Arun Jaitley 362939 33471 Click Here  6201977
Harsimrat Kaur Badal 135766 21923 Click Here  6201968
Jitendra Singh 197403 24831 Click Here  6201972
Nihal Chand 87997 14188 Click Here  6201971
Rahul Gandhi* 176550 26577 Click Here  6201987
Santosh Gangwar 154990 13707 Click Here  6201985
Uma Bharti 120793 7788 Click Here  6201979

* Rahul Gandhi’s bill is the total of bills from two different meters.

If you wish to check the above electricity bills, you should be able to do that from the New Delhi Municipal Council’s website. No need to file an RTI. Just use the above consumer numbers (provided in TNIE article) and you will get the bill. For Arvind Kejriwal’s bill, you might need to file an RTI as the bill has not been attached in the above article.

– The author of this guest-post wishes to be anonymous

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