Free commute to women shows Kejriwal’s desperation

The recent announcement should be seen as the scream of a drowning man

Free commute to women shows Kejriwal’s desperation
Free commute to women shows Kejriwal’s desperation

It is heartening to note that the saffron party has refused to play the game of competitive populism with Kejriwal, who is frantically trying to keep himself afloat

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement allowing women in the national Capital travel free on public transport is both the sign of a politician desperately trying to keep himself relevant and a challenge to other parties in the game of populism. Not many good things are expected from him anyway, but this time he has not just shredded thrift but also common sense.

After losing all seven Lok Sabha seats in the recent general election, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing a veritable existential crisis. Four years ago, the party had won 67 out of 70 seats in the state Assembly poll; this time it not just scored a cipher but, with the Bharatiya Janata Party doing exceedingly well under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it now fears annihilation as a political entity.

Fortunately, the BJP has refused to swallow the bait. State party chief Manoj Tiwari has correctly pointed out that Kejriwal “is making a futile attempt to buy votes ahead of state poll.”

The AAP’s Lok Sabha tally has gone down from four in 2014 to one in 2019—all seats coming from Punjab, then as well as now. In Delhi, the BJP’s vote share has not just crossed the half-way mark, even an alliance with the Congress is unlikely to help the AAP. Besides, Kejriwal’s melodrama, shenanigans, deceit, and lies have already cost him not a few supporters.

But he is among the Indian politicians who believe that you can fool all the people all the time. Hence the new gimmick. The free use of public transport by women will happen in three months, Kejriwal said on Sunday. The Centre has yet to give assent to his move. It needs to be mentioned here that the Delhi Metro-owned partly by the Delhi government.

The proposed scheme gives women the choice to pay if they can afford, and want to. “Those who want to buy tickets are free to do so; they need not take the subsidy. Several women can afford these modes of transport. Those who can afford it can buy tickets and forgo subsidy so others could benefit,” he explained.

This will cost the Delhi government Rs 700 crore this year, but then our political masters are seldom bothered about such matters as public finance. They claim to be altruistic and pro-poor, always talking about the largesse they are ‘giving’ to the weaker sections of society, never mentioning that it is taxpayer money that is used to sustain their concerns for the poor.

The latest offering from the Kejriwal government, however, is not just fiscally imprudent but also an assault on the basic principles of statecraft and economics. If the government provides transport—and in Delhi, it does majorly—then it is natural that it gets paid by those who use it. If the users, or half of them, are allowed to commute without charge, the money needed for running and maintaining the utilities would be taken from the taxpayer. One need not be a Nobel Laureate in economics to know this simple fact.

Fortunately, the BJP has refused to swallow the bait. State party chief Manoj Tiwari has correctly pointed out that Kejriwal “is making a futile attempt to buy votes ahead of state poll.”

Senior Delhi BJP leader and former Union minister Vijay Goel also reacted similarly. “He [Kejriwal] is trying to mislead the people as elections are underway. His party AAP has lost all seven seats in the 17th Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls are underway. He is doing just for the elections,” Goel told a news agency.

It is heartening to note that the saffron party has refused to play the game of competitive populism with Kejriwal, who is frantically trying to keep himself afloat. The recent announcement should be seen as the scream of a drowning man.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Latest posts by Ravi Shanker Kapoor (see all)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here