Open to extending free bus ride to elderly, students: KejriwalUpdated: Oct 29, 2019, 20:18 IST
The Delhi government is open to the idea of extending the free bus ride scheme to senior citizens and students, irrespective of gender, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday.
In a video clip uploaded on social media hours after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s ambitious scheme offering free rides to women in Delhi’s public buses took off, he said, “Some people are saying this free ride scheme should be extended to all students and senior citizens. But every step cannot be completed at once. We will do it. Let us start with women and see the results, and based on the result we will definitely deliberate on making these rides free for senior citizens and students too in the future.”
In his speech that was broadcast live over the party’s recently launched mobile application named after Kejriwal, the chief minister spoke about women empowerment, gender equality, invoked India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi while elaborating on his own fight against corruption in general. He criticised his rivals for criticising the scheme as a “freebie” ahead of the assembly elections in the city, likely to be slated early next year.
“This initiative will empower women. Women do not get equal rights and opportunities in our country…The structure of our society is so lopsided that women hardly get equal opportunities. That contributes to a wide gender gap… With this scheme, women will be able to travel to their schools, colleges and workplaces without being discouraged by the fares. I will not say this initiative will solve all problems but it is a big step,” Kejriwal said.
Women taking Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and orange cluster buses were on Tuesday issued pink tickets by conductors. The government will reimburse transporters based on the number of such tickets issued, each costing them Rs 10. For this financial year, the government has set aside Rs 150 crore for the scheme.
“Rajiv Gandhi [former prime minister] had said thato ut of Rs 100 spent for the welfare of people, Rs 85 goes into corruption and just Rs 15 reaches people. We are saving those Rs 85 and giving facilities to the people of Delhi… Then what problem does the opposition parties have if I am working towards the welfare of the people. They should get above politics in these matters,” Kejriwal said.
Delhi is scheduled to go to polls early next year and opposition parties, primarily the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, have been alleging the AAP government was giving “freebies” to woo voters.