Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was recently on a political visit to Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Goa where he promised free electricity and free water just like Delhi. In Gujarat as well, the party has promised free power, water and a curb in increasing fees of private educational institutions. Arvind Kejriwal made the promise, while saying that Punjab and Uttarakhand produce their own electricity but people there are forced to pay higher prices.
In Delhi, people get zero power bills for usage up to 200 units and have to pay half the price for units consumed between 201 to 400.
In Gujarat, where assembly elections will be held around December next year, the AAP has already started its campaign and membership drive and is hopeful of a better performance in the backdrop of its performance in Surat Municipal polls earlier this year. However, the opposition Congress is of the view that Gujarat doesn’t need a Delhi Model but a model to replace BJP’s misrule which only Congress can offer.
“If we talk about Gujarat only, the BJP government makes schemes and 75 per cent of the funds go into scams and advertisement. What people today need is a transparent system. People want proper administration. Today, if a common man wants to go to the secretariat, collectorate or corporation, it’s closed for them but open for the agents and brokers. Unemployed youth wants transparency in government job recruitment. Gujarat wants an alternative model to the BJP’s misrule. The Aam Aadmi Party has not come to Gujarat, they have been brought in as a B-team of the BJP,” said Dr Manish Doshi, chief spokesperson of Gujarat Congress.
Doshi hit out at Arvind Kejriwal and questioned Delhi’s power model. “Arvind Kejriwal should first tell what he did in Delhi. He talked of Delhi Model, published big advertisements in newspapers, but the reality is something else. Delhi has costlier electricity than Punjab. Aam Aadmi Party came to power promising a corruption-free government but resorted to freebies politics. We have seen that many leaders of the AAP were caught in many cases. Their misrule was evident in Delhi,” he said.
Doshi was referring to the claim made by Ajay Maken last week. Maken had claimed that the average cost of electricity is the highest in Delhi at Rs 6.90 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) citing the Power Finance Corporation’s latest annual report. Maken claimed that the per unit tariff in Punjab is at Rs 4.66/kWH, Rs 5.01/kWh in Rajasthan, and Rs 5.63/kWh in Maharashtra.
“Kejriwal ji, if electricity rate is highest somewhere in the country, that is in Delhi. A lot of money is being collected from the people of Delhi in the name of fixed charges. The people of Delhi have now understood your lies and loot,” said Delhi Congress on July 11.
केजरीवाल जी देश में अगर सबसे ज़्यादा बिजली के रेट हैं तो वो दिल्ली में हैं. दिल्ली के लोगों से फ़िक्स्ड चार्ज के नाम पर काफ़ी पैसा वसूला जा रहा है
दिल्ली की जनता आपके झूट और लूट को अब समझ चुकी है @INCUttarakhand की जनता आपके झूठे दावों में आने वाली नहीं https://t.co/meRIdwPXrp
— Delhi Congress (@INCDelhi) July 11, 2021
Reacting to the question of whether AAP’s Delhi Model will work in other states like Gujarat or Punjab, Delhi MLA and AAP’s Gujarat in-charge Gulab Singh said that people in the state are now looking up to the Aam Aadmi Party for a change. “Who doesn’t want free electricity, free water? Be it Gujarat or Punjab or Uttarakhand, people are fed up with high power prices. Despite these states producing their own electricity, people are forced to buy it at a higher tariff. You talk to people and they will tell you this,” said Singh.
When asked if can AAP make a dent in BJP’s Gujarat fort, Singh said that Gujarat has been the BJP’s stronghold only because there is no opposition. “Opposition has been suppressed, bought and threatened. What has Congress done in the last 27 years? It has emerged as a B-team of the BJP. Whenever they want MLAs, they get them from Congress. The senior Gujarat Congress leadership has been sold at the hands of the BJP. They don’t take to the streets against the BJP. Their whole game is fixed. People are very excited about AAP and looking at us with hope,” said Singh.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, however, disagrees that AAP can put up a formidable challenge in Punjab. “People know Arvind Kejriwal has no credibility. They won 20 seats and around half have already joined the Congress. Their big talk has flopped. The dream they sold to the common people that they would bring a new model, they would bring transparency, all that has flopped. People are now repenting voting AAP and feel they should have voted Congress,” says SAD spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema.
During his recent visit to Punjab, Arvind Kejriwal had promised 300 units of free electricity and 24-hour power supply. Kejriwal claimed that around 77 per cent of Punjab’s population will benefit from the move.
However, what he may have missed is that the Punjab government has been providing free power up to 200 Units per month to all Backward-Class, SC/ST, Non-SC, BPL and BC families. However, the creamy layer SCs and OBCs were excluded from the list by a 2020 order which sought to prune the list to save on electricity subsidy.
“In Punjab, we already have a subsidy scheme running which provides more than what Arvind Kejriwal is promising. Weaker sections of society are already getting free electricity. He (Kejriwal) doesn’t know that these schemes have been running for a long time in Punjab. Here, unlike Delhi, if the bill amount exceeds the free limit, consumer only pays for the extra units whereas in Delhi, user pays for entire unit consumed,” Akali leader Cheema told Financialexpress.com.
In Uttarakhand, those consuming up to 100 units used to pay at the rate of two rupees eighty paise per unit, while those with consumptions between 101 to 200 units used to pay the bill at the rate of four rupees per unit. However, earlier this month, the BJP-led Uttarakhand government came up with a free electricity announcement ahead of the polls. The Uttarakhand BJP government announced that consumers having monthly consumption up to 100 units will get free electricity while those having consumption between 100 to 200 units will be charged at 50 per cent.
The announcement by the Uttarakhand BJP is being seen as an attempt to counter the AAP’s promise of free electricity as the state government had only hiked power tariff in April this year. Now, with AAP aggressively promoting its free power and water promise, the BJP found itself on the backfoot and announced the free power to domestic consumers.
In Gujarat, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel today said that the BJP government has not increased power tariffs for farmers in the last 26 years of its rule in the state. In Gujarat, there are different slabs as per the consumption with prices ranging between Rs 1.5 to Rs 5 depending on the usages and the category i.e. BPL etc.
Since Punjab and Uttarakhand already offer free power to a certain number of consumers, the pressure will be on Gujarat to lower the power tariffs.