In the second round of bitter verbal battles between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government over electoral promises, the national capital's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia today reiterated that even while the Centre writes off "their friends'" loans worth lakhs of crores, they call welfare measures undertaken by the AAP government "freebies". He hit out at the BJP-led union government, accusing them of deliberately "destroying" the education system so that the common people are forced to send their children to private schools which he claimed are owned by "their friends".
The common people are being ridiculed with the "free ki revdi" remark, he said, adding that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to scare the people by claiming it will destroy the country.
Ms Sitharaman had earlier this week demanded a debate on the distribution of freebies, countering Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's allegation that the Central government only distributes largesse among its friends in the corporate world. Mr Kejriwal, she added, is giving a "perverse twist" to the debate on freebies.
"Health and education have never been called freebies. No Indian government has ever denied them. So classifying education and health as freebies, Kejriwal is trying to bring a sense of worry and fear in minds of the poor. There should be a genuine debate on this matter," she had told reporters.
Responding to her today, Mr Sisodia again used AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal's 'dostvaad' (favouring friends) swipe at the BJP, saying two conflicting models of direct governance are visible in the country. "There is a model in which people in power help friends, that is the model of 'dostvaad'. Taxes worth lakhs of crores of friends are waived and that is called development. The second model is, that public tax money is being used for schools, hospitals, free electricity, free bus travel for women, and pension is being given to the elderly," he said.
Without directly naming the BJP, he said people in power waived off their friends' taxes worth Rs 6 lakh crore and loans worth Rs 10 lakh crore whereas if a farmer is unable to repay the loan instalment, then his land and house gets seized in this 'dostvaad' model.
Mr Sisodia said all the developed countries of the world believe in free education for their children. "39 countries provide free education. Countries like Canada, the UK, and Brazil provide free health facilities to their people. Drinking water is free in many countries," he said, adding that these governments believe in free investing in their citizens, while it is being called "free ki revdi" in our country.
He challenged the Finance Minister to look at the BJP governments which he claimed are under debt even when not offering such free welfare services. "The fiscal deficit in UP is Rs 81 thousand crores and that of Gujarat is 36 thousand crores. Whereas for 7 years, the Delhi government is running in surplus despite investment in education, health etc.," he said.
The Cente has argued that the opposition does not appear to have a coherent strategy for long-term corrective steps -- creating employment, boosting income or improving the ease of doing business. Rather, the focus is entirely on winning elections and staying in power by promising freebies.