Home News Nirmala Sitharaman hits back at Kejriwal; demands debate on freebies

Nirmala Sitharaman hits back at Kejriwal; demands debate on freebies

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Nirmala Sitharaman hits back at Kejriwal; demands debate on freebies

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Hitting back at Arvind Kejriwal over his charge that the Centre only distributes largesse among its ‘friends’, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that the Delhi Chief Minister was giving “perverse twist” to the debate on freebies.

“Arvind Kejriwal is giving a perverse twist to freebies on Health and Education. This is to scare the public. We want a debate and discussion on freebies,” Sitharaman said. 

The remarks came shortly after Kejriwal charged that “something seems to be wrong” with the Centre’s finances the way it is “strongly opposing” free facilities for people. 

Citing the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme, reduction in states share in central taxes from 42 per cent to 29 per cent, Goods and Services Tax (GST) imposed on food items and 25 per cent cut in MNREGA fund, Kejriwal asked where was all the money going.

He said the Centre collects huge amount of taxes, including Rs 3.5 lakh per annum on petrol and diesel, and was still against providing people of the country free education, healthcare and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the BJP claimed that while the central government’s welfare policies empower different deprived sections of society with targeted schemes, some parties’ engage in ‘revdi’ culture by dishing out freebies for everyone for political gains.

“Revdi culture is about dishing out lollipops for political gains and it makes no transformation to people’s lives. It misuses taxpayers’ money with the rich benefiting at the cost of the poor,” BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said as he targeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his counter-offensive after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s denunciation of freebies.

PM Modi named no one in his speeches but the AAP leader sprang to defend it due to his sense of guilt, Poonawalla told a press conference.

He referred to Kejriwal’s promise of opening 500 new schools and claimed that two two dozen schools were shut in reality and accused him of giving people “free corruption, pollution, advertisements and liquor” instead of free education, water, health and electricity.

The debate about freebies started after Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party won a massive mandate in Punjab with the Delhi model of governance, which has given them two consecutive terms in power. Under it, free power and water are seen as big draws.

AAP has also made similar promises in Gujarat, where elections are due at the end of this year. In addition, they have promised allowances for the unemployed.

The debate got a boost after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at a function in Jharkhand last month, cautioned against the “politics of shortcuts”, saying it can “destroy” the nation.

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