New Delhi: skits and door-to-door campaigns. In this way, the Aam Aadmi Party has planned to hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Revdi’ cultural declaration in the two electoral states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
According to political leaders and experts, their strategy is aimed at telling the public that the BJP is going against the promise of free services at a time when prices are rising, savings are falling and unemployment is have affected a large number of people. Experts believe the party wants Modi’s comments on “revdi culture” – a term used by the prime minister to describe the free facilities offered by political parties – to backfire on the BJP.
A senior AAP functionary in Delhi told ThePrint, “Our election campaign volunteers in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have now started persuading people through small ‘plays’ on the issue.”
He further said, “During this some of them disguise themselves as catering staff and go around as street vendors shouting Revdi, Revdi and then explain to the people that what BJP calls Revdi, actually means in the name of the ‘AAP. Free quality education and health. services and 300 unit free electricity etc. which help to increase savings of citizens. Our volunteers are also spreading the same message door to door.
Experts say there are many facets to Modi’s comments on gifts at this point. The fear that regional leaders will thrive on brands with a model of government centered on gratuity, citing subsidies that contribute to the deterioration of states’ financial condition year after year, is a direct attack on the AAP party, which has a strong presence in Delhi and Punjab. Further expansion could be a problem for the BJP in the long run.
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Experts say Kejriwal’s aggressive counter-attack strategy has many aspects. He described how Modi’s comments directly affected his fundamental model of governance, which is heavily based on subsidies. He also says that Kejriwal’s direct fight with Modi at this point can give him political gains not only in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, but also in terms of his larger national ambitions going forward.
Praveen Rai, political analyst at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, told ThePrint, “The Prime Minister’s comments sound like a veiled attack on Kejriwal and his policies. It seems that Kejriwal has taken it as an attack personal.His model of governance in Delhi depends heavily on free services.Perhaps that is why the Prime Minister’s comments have affected AAP more than other parties.
Tension over Revadi’s policy
It all started on July 16, when Modi warned people against the “rewdi culture” of gifts for votes, calling it “very dangerous” for the country’s development.
Kejriwal immediately responded to this. They felt that their welfare plans were being misrepresented, which included providing many free services to people.
Over the next few days, several state units of the AAP were seen taking to the streets in protest. Meanwhile, Kejriwal also continued his attacks strategically with a bigger narrative. He said in one of his statements that Modi government is against free services. They have problems not only with services like free electricity and water but also with essential services like free school education and free healthcare.
At the same time, the AAP began to come forward with the claim that the BJP was allegedly helping some extremely rich people close to the central government by waiving their loans and giving them tax breaks.
On August 8, Kejriwal said those who called his government’s welfare schemes “free” were “traitors”. A day later, he again slammed the Modi government and accused the BJP of “crony capitalism”.
one on August 10 video press release On this, Kejriwal said, “Giving quality services to people for free will harm the nation! It is quite strange that an environment is being created to create such an impression.
On Thursday, Kejriwal raised questions about the central government’s finances. ‘Kejriwal made one video message Why are they suddenly opposed to free services? Free services in the fields of health and education have been present for 75 years. Why does the central government want to stop it?’
The AAP’s strategy seems to have influenced the BJP. The party is clearly working hard to explain the difference between who Modi called ‘Revdi’ and why Kejriwal attacked him for it.
For instance, on Thursday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused Kejriwal of giving a “perverted twist” to the debate on gifts. Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman said that health and education facilities can never be called free rewari. No government in India has ever denied it.
Then on Friday, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra also addressed the AAP’s allegations. Patra told a press conference, “Working for the economically weaker section is called ‘welfare scheme’. While free means short-term benefit. Only Arvind Kejriwal and his party have benefited from this .
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Decoding the ‘revdi’ policy
Tanveer Ejaz, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Delhi University, told ThePrint that grants should always be evaluated using standards of transparency and accountability.
On these two parameters, both the Modi and Kejriwal governments have a long way to go. In Kejriwal’s case, he can defend Delhi’s subsidy by invoking a surplus budget, but what about Punjab, which is struggling with huge deficits and huge debt? Moreover, the surplus of public finances does not mean that it should be distributed freely.
On why Kejriwal was targeted by Modi, he said, “There seems to be some kind of competition between BJP and AAP.”
Ejaz said, “And this time Kejriwal is the leader in the race.”
Rai said: India is a welfare state. Free services are a weapon to ensure equality.
“So-called gifts remain a gray area that the Supreme Court will not rule on,” he says. “But I think the BJP’s strategy here may backfire as people across the country are worried about unemployment, rising prices and declining savings,” he said. Free services are a great relief to a large section of the public.
According to Ejaz, the big idea behind the grants should be to create jobs and achieve long-term goals.
Ejaz said, “(which should not happen) steps like waiving electricity bills and free ration for six months are only providing short-term relief.” He adds: “Kejriwal has taken an aggressive counter-tactic as Modi’s comments directly attack his fundamental model of pro-subsidy governance.” He has always said that he is not into the politics of caste and religion.
Rahul Verma, a fellow at the Center for Policy Research, a Delhi-based public policy think tank, said that state finances across India are poor and that “subsidies to political parties are certainly a matter of concern at this time,” but gifts Kejriwal is not the only leader to give.
He says, “Leaders like Arvind Kejriwal have worked at the grassroots level in slums and jhuggi-jhopri colonies. So their ideas on the welfare governance model based on large grants not only got public support but also help build a brand Many political leaders have become some sort of brand over the years through their grant-driven model.
He believes there can be many reasons to criticize Modi.
Verma said: “Firstly, he is concerned about the poor state of the state’s finances in general. Second, regional leaders who have developed strong brands based on a model centered on gratuity could pose a challenge to the BJP to expand in these states Thirdly, the gift model is clearly helping AAP to expand its party outside Delhi and this could be a problem for Modi in the long run.
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why are you angry
Days after coming to power in Delhi with a majority in 2015, the AAP government cut electricity tariffs by 50% to 400 units a month and made it possible for households to consume up to 20,000 liters of water every month.
In 2019, the Kejriwal government in Delhi launched more subsidy schemes: the biggest of which was 200 units of free electricity per household per month, a 50 percent discount on bills up to 400 units and s ‘include free travel for women on public buses.
A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to the Delhi Assembly on July 5 highlighted some related trends in Delhi’s state finances, including a 92% increase in subsidy spending for seven years.
Expenditure on grants increased from Rs 1,867.61 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 3,592.94 crore (92.38%) in 2019-20, the report said. In 2019-20, the expenditure on grants has increased by 41.85 percent over the previous year.
Since 2020, AAP has showcased its subsidy-driven model of governance: free power units, free water, free bus rides for women and free treatment at mohalla clinics in the states it has contested.
After coming to power in Punjab on March 10, AAP implemented the scheme of 300 units of free electricity per month to every household. The party is also making similar promises in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
According to Verma, Kejriwal is reacting strongly for two reasons.
“Firstly, Modi has attacked his basic model of governance. Second, directly taking on a leader like Modi at this stage gives him a political edge as he campaigns in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where elections are due in a few months. And it also helps him establish himself as the face of the opposition against Modi in national politics in the long run.
what does the opposition think
Several opposition leaders also criticized Modi’s ‘revdi’ remarks. Congress leader Supriya Srinet told ThePrint that Revdy’s argument “reflects the mindset of being wrong, hypocritical and morally bankrupt”.
She said, “First of all, what do they mean by Revdi? This is the aid which is aimed at the welfare of the poor. She says, “BJP’s double attitude is clearly visible. They demand free vaccines and free ration. Before the elections, he distributed rations in bags containing pictures of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. Don’t they see it as Revdi?
Asked about Kejriwal’s constant attacks on the BJP, he said, “We all have seen their fake development model in Delhi. After all their works, we have seen the quality of water supply in Delhi.
Trinamool Congress member and Rajya Sabha spokesperson Sukhendu Shekhar Ray told ThePrint that free services by any government is a way to achieve equality in society.
He said: “The Prime Minister should criticize others about freebies only when he himself lays out the list of free services offered by his party in front of everyone. Even after 75 years of independence, 73 per cent of the national wealth is under the control of one percent of the population.How do you rate Kejriwal’s strategy?He declined to comment on the question.
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