The BJP has taken on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with its full force in refuting his claims about the BJP seeking withdrawal of subsidies in the education and health sectors.
Kejriwal came under heavy attack from BJP on Thursday with BJP hitting out against the “perverse twist” given by him on the debate on freebies and alleging that his politics was all about “revdi (freebie) culture”.
BJP leader Amit Malviya said that successive governments have been caring for the poor and Kejriwal cannot claim the credit for measures taken by a welfare government.
“In what seems like an inadvertent slip, Kejriwal admits that various governments, for the last 70-75 years, have been providing free education, food and healthcare to the poor. That is a welfare state. Arvind Kejriwal can’t claim the credit. His politics however is all about ‘revdi culture’,” he said.
BJP spokesperson RP Singh also accused Delhi Chief Minister of “unbridled spends on only ads”.
“Kejriwal has perfected a model which is about freebies for the certain media and allied ecosystem. Unbridled spends on only ads and ads and nothing else. This is what allows Arvind Kejriwal to blatantly lie in full public glare knowing media won’t expose him,” Singh said.
Former Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said Kejriwal has been “resorting to lies” and said he had failed to fulfil his promises. He alleged that Kejriwal is not a man of his words.
“He has become a lying machine and he is not hesitant about it. A number of times, he made a U-turn over controversial statements made by him. A number of times he has apologized for his statements. Despite this, he continues to make such remarks. Whenever the central government makes schemes, it aims to serve people for their overall development. Earlier, during the days of election campaigning, Kejriwal said ‘sabke paani ke bill maaf, bijli half’. Did it happen for all people of Delhi? This is called revdi culture. He (Kejriwal) is not a man of his words,” Tiwari said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that promising and distributing freebies by political parties during elections is a “serious issue” and an amount has to be spent on infrastructure etc.
The apex court was hearing a plea seeking direction to seize election symbols and deregister political parties that promised to distribute irrational freebies from public funds.
A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Krishna Murari told parties in the case: “Economy losing money and welfare of people, both have to be balanced. That is why this debate and there must be someone who can put their vision and thoughts. Please submit something.”
BJP MP KJ Alphons said the Modi government has spent money on changing the lives of the poor.
“Most of the money spent by the Modi government has been on creating infrastructure for the poor, from housing to toilets, drinking water, insurance, medical, you name it,” he said.
He said political parties should seek votes on performance and not freebies. “It should be based on performance but some governments, I mean, take the example of Delhi government, all that it does is give freebies. Whose money is it? It is the public’s money being used for political purposes that is inappropriate,” he said.
“What government should do is perform and then ask people– look at this, we have done things for you, would you vote for us? I think that is exactly what the Prime Minister is saying,” Alphons said.
Whereas BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia hit out at Kejriwal over allegations faced by his ministerial colleague Satyendar Jain. “Kejriwal is asking where the money goes? It does not go to Satyendar Jain’s house, it goes to provide ration to 80 crore people, goes to vaccines. Today is the day to catch lies of liars like Kejriwal,” Bhatia said.
The BJP leader said Kejriwal also “uttered lies about MNREGA”.
“There have been no such cuts in the MNREGA scheme as he has alleged. And this was a lie Arvind Kejriwal said that the amount of MNREGA has been cut. Also, I would like to remind Arvind Kejriwalji about what Nirmala Sitharaman said in Parliament. The government will allocate more funds for MNREGA if needed. In fact, I challenge Arvind Kejriwal if he thinks what I’m saying is a lie. We come prepared with facts. BJP stands by the common man, Kejriwal should learn about finances,” he said.
BJP leader Adesh Gupta said money allocated to the Delhi government is “not used properly”.
“Can Kejriwal answer my one question? If the Centre is not giving money, then from where was he able to present the Delhi budget? The Delhi government is getting its required share of GST. The Centre is giving states its required share of GST in a proper manner. However, the money allocated to various sectors in the Delhi budget is not used properly. A large chunk of funds is lying unused. The money that was needed for the uplifting labourers is not being used adequately. Where is the money going? Who is responsible for this problem?” he asked.
Referring to Agnipath scheme, Gupta said it is very successful. “This scheme will make the youth of the country towards self-reliance. Kejriwal has only favoured those who run liquor vends. Why is Kejriwal anti-people and only pro-politics? It shows that Kejriwal is no longer ‘aam aadmi’ and has become ‘khaas aadmi,'” he said.
BJP MP Parvesh Verma also accused Kejriwal of resorting to lies. “He states that he will address press conference but runs away by addressing the people virtually with no political debate. He cooks up lies and makes efforts to deviate people’s attention from the core problems,” the MP said.
Verma rejected Kejriwal’s allegations pertaining to waive offs and tax rebates.
“Recently, Kejriwal went to Gujarat and said that he will provide Rs 1000 per month to every woman in the state. Why did he not propose this for the women in Delhi? Kejriwal also promised to provide unemployment allowance to the people of Gujarat. Why did he not propose this offer for the women in Delhi… he has no accountability for his statements.”
In his press conference, Kejriwal alleged that it is for the first time in the history of the country that “the Centre, justifying their Agnipath Yojna, said they’re doing it so they do not have to pay pensions to defence persons anymore”.
“Never in past 75 years has govt taxed basic food grains. Tax over petrol and diesel is over Rs 1000 crore. They’re now saying all free things by government should end, fee should be charged in govt schools, hospitals. They’re saying free rations to be stopped,” Kejriwal said.
“Where did all money of the centre go? They’re forgiving loans of their friends with this government money. They’ve even forgiven taxes of their billionaire friends,” he alleged.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said that the culture of ‘revdis’ being promoted by AAP government was more focused on advertising but weak on governance.
“I am here to expose the free education model of Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s mantra is Vigyapan par zor, Vyavastha me kamjor (Focus on advertisements, weak on governance). Kejriwal’s revdi model means that of the 500 schools and 20 colleges promised, none have been delivered. This is the revdi culture we caution against,” he told the media.
Government sources said Kejriwal is deliberately framing the argument in a manner that is wrong. They said nobody is saying that free benefits to the poor is wrong but it is also wrong to classify the loan write-offs as freebies or to say that corporate tax rate cut was designed to benefit the corporates.
The sources said the central government is giving free food over and above the highly subsidised food provided under the NFSA.
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana provides 5 kg of free foodgrain to 80 crore people every month, and at the end of September 2022 it would have been running for 2.5 years.
They said some political parties do not have a coherent strategy to take long-term corrective steps, create more employment, boost incomes or improve the ease of doing business and they are unable to resolve issues adversely affecting people.
The entire focus, they said, is to simply promise freebies and allurements to either win elections or stay in power by offering them as ‘bait’ to woo the voters.
There is no justification for political parties offering freebies that the government’s exchequer cannot afford and will eventually lead to bankruptcy of the state, the sources said and added that when they promise free electricity, water or other freebies, they are merely borrowing from future generations to reward the present generation.
The BJP and AAP had engaged in a war of words on the freebie culture. While the BJP has emphasised that such politics is not in the people’s interest, AAP has claimed that its politics were in favour of the poor.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh slammed the BJP government. “The free services provided to the people come from taxpayer’s money. People reciprocate for the facilities given. The schemes are run on money provided by the taxpayer. The use of words like ‘free revdi’ is a mockery of people, of the poor, of the facilities given to people,” he said in a video posted by AAP on its Twitter handle.
He alleged that the government had hiked GST on items of daily use such as curd. He also said that the Centre has been unable to control inflation and alleged that it has been unable to tackle unemployment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that people who have a tendency to avoid problems by adopting shortcuts for political selfishness can never solve the problems permanently.
Those adopting short-cuts may get applause for some time and may gain political advantage, but that does not solve the problem.
Adopting a short-cut will definitely result in a short-circuit, he said. “Instead of following short-cuts, our government is engaged in permanent solutions to the problems. A lot has been said about the problems of stubble over the years. But those with a short-cut mentality could not solve it,” he said.
“Selfish announcements of freebies will prevent the country from becoming self-reliant, increase the burden on honest taxpayers and prevent investment in new technologies,” he added.