Delhi Assembly Election 2020: BJP, AAP bicker over sting at ‘wrong’ school buildings
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were on Tuesday locked in a tussle over the quality of Delhi government schools, with the former claiming to “expose” on video various shortcomings in seven such institutions, and the latter contending that the BJP sting was a “hoax” shot selectively in abandoned buildings that once housed schools.
The AAP cites the improvement in the infrastructure and performance of Delhi government schools as one of its biggest achievement over the last five years.
In an attempt to put that claim to test, union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday released a “reality check” video that would ostensibly show how several schools lacked lack basic amenities. In the video, uploaded on social media, Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha MPs (Manoj Tiwari, Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri, Meenakshi Lekhi, Gautam Gambhir, Parvesh Verma and Hans Raj Hans) and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Goyal were seen leading “inspection drives” to collect “video evidence” from schools.
In the video and in individual tweets put out by them, the MPs were seen walking through the buildings and pointing out purported flaws -- leaking taps, dirty toilets, dilapidated ceilings -- in these institutions.
“It exposes their (AAP’s) false claims on revolution in Delhi government schools,” Shah wrote while tweeting the video.
But chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia countered on Tuesday afternoon that the BJP MPs had either visited buildings where schools existed before being shifted to upgraded facilities, or purposely walked through sections of the school complex that were not in use rather than those that were functional.
“Out of 1,024 government schools in Delhi, BJP found only eight schools with some deficiencies, and even those turned out to be false… I invite Union minister Amit Shah once again to visit government schools with us and see the transformation. But that does not mean he should insult the 16 lakh children, 32 lakh parents and 65 thousand teachers of Delhi by lying… I am very happy that Amit Shah sent all his MPs and workers of his party to all schools to investigate the deficiencies,” Kejriwal said.
HT reporters and photographers, who visited the buildings shown in the BJP video, found that actual schools were not being run from most of those compounds.
In one case (Khichripur, where Gambhir visited), the school moved four months ago. In two cases (Tughlaqabad, where Bidhuri went; and Matiala, where Verma visited), the video showed the school’s old building rather than the functional new one. In one case (Mangolpuri, where Hans went), the video showed an empty multi-purpose hall as a classroom). The school where Tiwari visited, in Khajuri Khas, did have a drinking-water shortage as he pointed out.
Both Lekhi and Vardhan appeared to visit the same school in Prem Nagar. They showed a dilapidated building, but that too turned out to be abandoned block of the building next to a newly built school where classes were being held.
“One part of the building is demolished for renovation. The work is expected to begin after the elections. The other part of the school is functioning well,” the principal of the school’s evening shift, MK Meena, told HT.
“The Delhi government is claiming to make the schools world class only by getting it repaired and painted from the outside. This is cheating. I challenge the education minister to visit these schools with us instead if they want to know the reality. You stand exposed and you should be the last person to question our evidence,” Tiwari said.
“Ramesh Bidhuri and his team went to the under-construction premises of a school and could clearly see construction materials lying around. But surprisingly that did not stop him from making the false video,” Sisodia said.
On Gambhir’s allegations, he said: “Construction of a new building is on. A notice has been pasted on the school gate. Classes were shifted to the neighbouring school building six months ago.”
Bidhuri, however, contended that the AAP government was threatening the school staff and forcing them to lie about the state of the school. Gambhir contended that the state of the building did not suggest it housed a “model school” just a few months ago.