Hitting out at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the BJP, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday alleged that the ruling party makes fun of welfare schemes by calling them ‘revdi’ (freebie) and instead follows a ‘Dostwadi’ model.
“The ‘Dostwadi’ model of the BJP waives loans of lakhs of crores of rupees of its friends but deprives common man of facilities like health and education. They do ‘Dostwadi’ politics (for welfare of friends) and we do politics for the common people,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said.
Sisodia also alleged that Sitharaman tried to scare people by claiming that spending government money on public welfare will destroy India and urged the Centre to invest in citizens. “I want to ask Madam to study the schemes/models of other country and how they have become rich economically by giving free schemes to public,” he added.
“UP, Madhya Pradesh and other states where BJP is in power has huge fiscal deficiency. But the Delhi Government, despite providing free schemes, has surplus revenue and has increased in the last seven years…we are not only saying this, CAG is also saying the same,” Sisodia added.
Sisodia’s remarks came a day after Sitharaman accused Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal of giving a “perverse twist” to the freebie debate. Kejriwal had questioned the state of the Central Government’s finances, citing its opposition to freebies from political parties.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Kejriwal said, “For the past few days, the way free services given to the public are being opposed is rather baffling. It is being said that if this is not stopped, governments across the country will go bankrupt. They are saying it will lead to a crisis and all such services should be immediately stopped. This also creates doubts about the economic wellbeing of the Central Government. Such huge opposition makes me wonder if it is in bad condition.”
Responding to Kejriwal’s statement, Sitharaman said that spending on health and education has never been viewed in this category and that his comments are an attempt to create fears in the minds of the poor.
“Delhi Chief Minister has given perverse twist to the debate on freebies. Health and education have never been called freebies,” she told reporters here. “No Indian government has ever denied them since Independence. So, by classifying education and health as freebies, Kerjiwal is trying to bring in a sense of worry and fear in minds of poor,” she said.
A plea against freebies promised by political parties is being heard in the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Election Commission had said that being a constitutional authority, it “may not be appropriate” for it to be part of a committee proposed to be set up by the Supreme Court to suggest ways to deal with the issue.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had targeted political opponents and accused them of promising freebies in exchange for votes. Describing the distribution of freebies as “revdi culture”, he said it was “very dangerous” for the country, its development and wellbeing.