NEW DELHI: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri took a dig at Arvind Kejriwal for his populist moves, saying the Delhi CM would have made everything free if elections could be won by providing things free of cost.
“It is not whether it should be free or not, but it should be how can you devise a system which is reasonably priced and efficient," Puri said at the 6th National Forum 2019 organised by Public Affairs Forum of India.
“If you can win elections by making everything free, Kejriwal would make everything free — rides on buses, electricity. Some he would make completely free, others half-free. When you ask where the money is coming from, he would say there is corruption.”
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Kejriwal had recently announced free metro and bus rides for women in Delhi, apart from free electricity up to 200 units.
Countering the claim that metro ridership has gone down since its fare hike, Puri said the footfall has rather “trebled” since the increase.
“The ridership was 24-25 lakh then (before fare hike) but it has trebled since then. It is 66 lakh now and going up. Yes, there is a co-relation between fare and ridership but it is more dependent upon the overall demand and what kind of service you are providing.”
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The fare was hiked in 2017 after a gap of nine years. “The fare fixation committee had not met for nine years. It was decided that since it has not been done in 9 years, it would be done in two installments,’ said Puri.
“Despite opposition, some of us have the maturity to realise if we succumb to populist pressures, barely any infrastructure would be left. Whether you build a road or an airport, you have to be reasonable.”
He accused Kejriwal of not implementing any central scheme. “Kejriwal does not implement any central scheme. Ayushman Bharat is a scheme for healthcare, but he has not implemented it.”