NEW DELHI: The political acrimony over freebies grew bitter on Friday with the BJP accusing AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal of using it as a "bait" to trap people for power while the Congress and the AAP hurled a 'gajak' and 'Dostwadi' politics jibe in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'revdi' remark.
Stepping up its attack on Kejriwal, whose party is in power in Delhi and Punjab, the BJP also accused the Delhi Chief Minister of speaking lies about his freebies for political benefits, and asserted they are different from the Centre's welfare schemes which are aimed at economic empowerment of weaker sections of the society.
In a counter to Modi's 'revdi' remark, the Congress alleged that the "government's rich friends" are getting 'gajak' by way of "necessary incentives" through low tax rates, write offs and exemptions worth crores.
It also said the poor are getting only small assistance as 'revdis'.
Both gajak and revdi are popular north Indian sweets.
Last month, the prime minister, after inaugurating the Bundelkhand Expressway in Uttar Pradesh, cautioned people against what he called the "revdi culture" of offering freebies for garnering votes and said it is "very dangerous" for the development of the country.
Modi had used 'revdi' as a metaphor for freebies being promised by some parties to woo voters and said the people, especially the youth, should guard against it.
Attacking the Modi government, Kejriwal said "Parivarwad and Dostwad" models will destroy the country and alleged that the BJP-led Centre would not have required to impose GST on eatables had it not waived tax on rich.
"India is devoured by Pariwarwad and Dostwad. Now it will not work. We will finish Pariwarwad and Dostwad," Kejriwal said in a Hindi tweet.
Noting that Kejriwal's sole purpose is to establish his and his party's prominence in the country, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that therefore he is speaking lies to the people of the country about freebies."
Addressing a press conference, Patra explained the differences between Kejriwal's freebies and welfare schemes initiated by the Modi government, and said the purpose of both is totally different.
Freebies are not only meant for the poor but for all, their main purpose is to grab power.
Such schemes are not beneficial for the country in the long run and have only short term benefits for one person and one political party, he claimed.
Similarly, "Kejriwal's freebies are bait to trap people for his own political benefits", he alleged.
Welfare schemes are aimed at a specific target group, which is economically weaker, to make them self-dependent and economically empowered by providing sustainable support, he said.
Kejriwal has alleged that the BJP-led Centre is "strongly opposing" free facilities to people as it lacks funds to support such welfare measures after waiving loans and taxes worth crores of its "super rich friends".
At a press conference, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claimed there are two models of governance.
One is the 'Dostwadi' model and the other is investing in public welfare schemes, he said.
Sisodia also alleged that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to scare people by claiming that spending government money on public welfare will destroy India, and urged the Centre to invest in citizens.
"The 'Dostwadi' model of the BJP waives loans of lakhs of crores of rupees of its friends but deprives common man of facilities like health and education.
They do 'Dostwadi' politics (for welfare of friends) and we do politics for the common people," the AAP leader said.
Sisodia claimed that the the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government is "revenue surplus" despite providing free schemes for the people while the "BJP-run states are in deficit".
"The BJP terms welfare schemes for the public 'free ki revdi' but we call it investing in our people. Yesterday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to scare people by saying spending government money on public welfare will destroy the country."
"But it is not so. I urge them to invest in the citizens of the country instead of playing 'Dostwadi' politics."
Sitharaman on Thursday accused Kejriwal of giving a "perverse twist" to the debate on freebies.
Hitting back at the prime minister, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh asked why "bank loans worth Rs 5.8 lakh crore were written off in the last five years" and why was "corporate tax worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore reduced".
He said while small assistance given to the poor and oppressed classes to tide in tough times are 'revdis', the "freebies given to the rich" were like 'gajak', which were way more than those given to the needy.
"We are against the 'jhooth ki gathri' (bundle of lies) culture. We are not against holding the hands of citizens during bad times."
"We are against 'muft ki gajak' which the Government of India is giving by way of corporate tax cuts, causing a loss of Rs 5.8 lakh crore to the exchequer when public sector banks transferred Rs 7.27 lakh crore in loans written off. We are against this, not against empowering people," Vallabh told reporters.
Vallabh said, "Why are small amounts of assistance given to the poor are freebies or 'revdi', while the freebies that the rich friends get all the time through low tax rates, write offs and exemptions are categorized as 'necessary incentives' (gajak)?" The Congress leader claimed that of the Rs 9.92 lakh crore loans written off by banks in the last five years, Rs 7.27 lakh crore is the share of public sector banks.
The government, he added, has admitted in Parliament that of the amount written off by it only Rs 1.03 lakh crore was recovered.
Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK meanwhile, said its key initiative aimed at women, providing them free bus travel, should not be confined to a "narrow" aspect of freebies but it is an economic revolution.
Chairing the third meeting of the Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission, Chief Minister M K Stalin said the scheme has ensured an 8-12 per cent savings for the families of the beneficiaries.