"Will Tell You What Is Free Revdi": Arvind Kejriwal Returns PM's Jab

In a pointed attack seemingly directed at PM Modi, Arvind Kejriwal said, "When you forgive thousands of crores in loans for your friends, that is free revdi. When you go for foreign trips, and seek contracts for your friends, that is free revdi."

Arvind Kejriwal said a state spending money on its people was not "revdi".

New Delhi:

Free water, electricity, healthcare or world-class primary education are not "revdis" but the responsibility of the state, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, delivering a same-day rebuttal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's quip about freebies offered by governments ahead of elections, which he compared to the North Indian winter munchies.

"Today, Gagan, the son of a worker who lost his Rs 15,000-a-month job during the lockdown, has managed to get admission at IIT Dhanbad in computer engineering. Ask him if Kejriwal is handing out free revdis or building the future of this country," he said, underscoring his focus on improving the capital's public schools.

"We have turned around Delhi's government hospitals, built amazing Mohalla Clinics. Delhi is the only megacity in the world where each of the 2 crore people can get free treatment. This includes surgeries that go up to Rs 30 or 40 or 50 lakh," Mr Kejriwal said.

"Those asking me why we give 200 units of free electricity in Delhi and 300 units in Punjab - I want to ask them, how many units of free electricity do you give your ministers? 4,000? 5,000?" he said.

"Those abusing me for making bus rides free for women are the same people who have spent thousands of crores on private jets," he added.

The AAP chief listed the Delhi government's 'Farishtey Scheme' which pays for the treatment of an accident victim at any hospital ("13,000 lives have been saved so far"); free yoga classes ("17,000 people are enjoying this facility"); free pilgrimages to Ayodhya, Haridwar and more.

"Despite making so many things free, Delhi has a budget surplus. What's wrong in ending corruption and using that money to help the public?" he said.

"I will tell you what free revdis are. There is a big company. It took loans from many banks and did not repay. Banks went bankrupt. That company paid up to the ruling party and faced no action. This is free revdi," Mr Kejriwal said.

"When you forgive thousands of crores in loans for your friends, that is free revdi. When you go for foreign trips, and seek contracts for your friends, that is free revdi," he said in a pointed attack seemingly directed at PM Modi.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister, while inaugurating the Rs 15,000 crore Bundelkhand Expressway in Uttar Pradesh - which the opposition called "half-built" - warned against what he called the "revdi culture" of offering freebies for votes and said this is "very dangerous".

"In our country today, attempts are being made to bring a culture of garnering votes by distributing 'revdis'. This 'revdi culture' is very dangerous for the development of the country. People of the country and especially the youth need to guard against this culture," PM Modi said.

He said proponents of 'revdi culture' will never make new expressways, airports and defence corridors.

"The revdi culture people think they will buy out people by distributing free revdi. We have to jointly defeat this thinking of theirs. Have to remove 'revdi culture' from the country's politics," PM Modi said without taking any names, just like Mr Kejriwal.