Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is giving a "perverse twist" to the debate on freebies. Lashing out at Kejriwal amid the ongoing debate on freebies, Sitharaman said, "Delhi Chief Minister has given a perverse twist to the debate on freebies. Health and education have never been called freebies. No Indian government has ever denied them."
"So classifying education and health as freebies, Kejriwal is trying to bring in a sense of worry and fear in the minds of poor. There should be a genuine debate on this matter," Sitharaman told reporters adding that both health and education are welfare state principle.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the debate on the rewari culture (freebies) doled out by parties to draw political mileage. In an apparent jibe against the Aam Aadmi Party's populist promises ahead of elections, PM Modi said the "rewari culture" is dangerous for the country.
Addressing the people in Bundelkhand after inaugurating the Bundelkhand expressway last month, PM Modi said, "There is an effort to bring a culture of garnering votes through freebies in the country. Those promoting it will never build expressways, airports and defence corridors for you. They will just try to buy out your votes."
AAP, which is trying to make inroads into Gujarat in the upcoming assembly elections has upped the ante against PM Modi's remarks.
Earlier today, Kejriwal too, slammed the central government's handling of the economy, while raising concerns on reduction in states' share of taxes and pruning of the MNREGA allocation among others. In a televised statement, Kejriwal said, "Centre collects taxes, including ₹3.5 lakh crore per annum on petrol and diesel. But it is against free education and healthcare. Why is it that the Centre is citing lack of funds for paying pensions to soldiers? Something seems wrong with the central government finances."