Taking on the criticism of political parties offering ‘freebies’, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday asked if his government did anything wrong by providing free education and healthcare facilities to the poor.
Kejriwal’s defense of welfare schemes in the states where his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rules — Delhi and Punjab — came in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently cautioning people against the “revadi culture” or distribution of freebies to get votes.
“They have waived Rs 11 lakh crore for their friends. I would like to ask you whether doing this is right, or providing free education to the children is right?” Kejriwal said without naming anybody at a meeting with a group of traders here.
The national convener of the AAP started his two-day visit to Gujarat, where Assembly polls are due by year-end, on Saturday.
More than 400 students from schools run by the Delhi government qualified for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and more than 400 passed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET for medical courses, Kejriwal claimed.
Students of government schools in Delhi speak fluent English and these schools have recorded more than 99 percent result in Board exams, he added.
“If I am providing free education in government schools, am I doing anything wrong? Shouldn’t students get free and quality education? It is a work of nation-building,” the Delhi chief minister said.
His government has improved the infrastructure at government hospitals and set up ‘mohalla clinics’, he said.
“We have made it a policy to offer free medical treatment to all, whether it costs Rs 10 lakh, Rs 40 lakh, or Rs 10….I do not ask whether you are rich or poor. We provide free healthcare service to two crore people, and they say Kejriwal is distributing free revadi,” he said.
Speaking about the schemes to provide free 200 units of electricity in Delhi and 300 units in Punjab, he said the cost was recovered by increasing the revenue.
The Punjab government’s first quarter revenue in April-June 2022 rose to Rs 21,000 crore against Rs 15,000 crore last year, he claimed.
“We have recovered the cost of providing free electricity,” he said.
Delhi has become a zero-debt state while BJP-ruled Gujarat has a debt of Rs 3.5 lakh crore, Kejriwal claimed.
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