Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s quip about freebies offered by governments ahead of elections which he compared to “revris” or winter munchies earned an instant rebuttal on Saturday from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who said giving free water, electricity or world-class primary education was not a bribe for voters but the responsibility of the state.
“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 revris 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 any 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.
“In spite of 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 revris 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 revri,” Mr Kejriwal said.
“When you forgive thousands of crores in loans for your friends, that is free revri. When you go for foreign trips, and seek contracts for your friends, that is free revri,” he said in a pointed attack seemingly directed at PM Modi.