BJP, Congress criticise AAP over free electricity, residents divided
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress on Thursday criticised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s announcement on waiving electricity charges for households consuming less than 200 units per month.
While the BJP called the move a “political stunt”, the Congress said the scheme is “inadequate”. The latter alleged the AAP failed to take action when power distribution companies overcharged residents of Delhi in the past one year.
Assembly elections in Delhi are scheduled early next year.
The AAP, however, dismissed all allegations.
“The declaration by the chief minister [Arvind Kejriwal] for waiving charges for power consumption up to 200 units is misleading and an election stunt,” said Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari. “Kejriwal is announcing freebies in view of the assembly elections,” he added.
Senior BJP leader Vijender Gupta said, “Kejriwal is trying to mislead consumers by withdrawing the increased fixed charge and load charge again as power tariff on consumption above 1,200 units has been increased. Kejriwal has invented a new method of looting consumers.”
People will see through this: Congress
Criticising the AAP, Delhi Congress spokesperson Ramakant Goswami said, “The AAP government’s announcement means nothing. For over a year they looted the people of Delhi in the name of fixed charges and right before the elections they declare free electricity up to 200 units. People will see through this.”
He further said, “It is totally inadequate as the DISCOMS have looted the citizens of Delhi for the past one-and-a-half-years on fixed charges and pension fund heads… The AAP government should make electricity free for all consumption levels in Delhi.”
Allegations unfounded: AAP
Reacting to the allegations, AAP leader Atishi said, “If Manoj Tiwari ji is so opposed to free electricity then he should give up free electricity given to him as an MP. I want to tell him that the AAP-led government is able to provide electricity at such prices because it has an honest and an IIT-educated chief minister who understands policies.”
Dismissing all allegations, Kejriwal said, “It has been a journey which has taken its own time. We have worked hard over the years to ensure bill amounts go down, power companies are in better financial condition, power infrastructure is better and residents get round the clock power supply.”
Some residents say move ‘pro-people’
The AAP-led government’s move drew mixed reactions from residents.
While some said it was a “pro-people” step, some termed it an “election oriented” move.
Sadre Aalam, president of the resident welfare association (RWA) of New Adarsh Apartment, Sector-16/B, Dwarka said: “I will be one of the beneficiaries as my electricity consumption is less than 200 units a month. The step will benefit the lower middle class.”
Ganesh Nagar RWA member Mukesh Gupta said the move might motivate people to save electricity and reduce consumption so that they can avail the scheme. “For instance, there are a number of households where electricity consumption is slightly above 200 units per month, so they might now try to consume less to make it to the mark,” Gupta said.
According to a power department official, a household can run one TV (LCD or LED), one refrigerator (up to 200 litres), one washing machine, three fans, five LED bulbs, one geyser (for an hour everyday) for 30 days, all within 200 units.
Move to ‘lure particular segment’, say others
Some, however, were not impressed. “The move is aimed at luring people belonging to a particular segment,” said BS Vohra, president of an umbrella group of east Delhi RWAs.
“It is public money and no government should waste it in freebies such as free electricity, free water and free Metro rides. They have announced the waiver just ahead of elections, which clearly show their intention. Government should ask for votes on the basis of work done,” Vohra said.
Ashutosh Dixit, CEO of United Residents’ Joint Action, said in a city like Delhi, those benefiting from this waiver would be a mere sliver of the population, which falls under the poorest of the poor category.
“This is a very ordinary, run-of-the-mill announcement with the elections in mind. However, achieving waiver on consumption of 200 units in Delhi, which has the highest per capita income, will not be difficult. Other than providing freebies, this government has done nothing to improve power infrastructure or the quality of their services,” he said.