Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday alleged that the BJP-led Centre is "strongly opposing" free facilities to people as it lacks funds to support such welfare measures after waving loans and taxes worth crores of its "super rich friends".
Addressing a digital press conference, he said the government schools have been offering free education to children in the country for over seven decades while people are getting free treatment at government hospitals.
A provision to provide free ration to the people of this country has also been there for last several years, he said. But for the last few days, he said, provisions made to give free facilities to people are being opposed vehemently.
"It is being argued that the country will become bankrupt and plunge into great economic crisis if the governments continue to provide free facilities to people," he said, asking "What happened all of sudden that all these provisions are being opposed?
Kejriwal said the Centre collects huge amount of taxes which include about Rs 3.5 lakh crore per annum imposed on petrol and diesel. While the Centre's tax collection has "doubled and tripled" since 2014, its annual budget has also increased from about Rs 20 lakh crore in 2014 to Rs 40 lakh crore today, he said.
Yet, the Union government recently rolled out Agnipath scheme for recruitment into armed forces on a contractual basis, saying it was brought in because burden of pension of the soldiers had become unbearable and refused to set up 8th pay commission for revision of the central government employees' salary citing shortage of funds, Kejriwal said.
Moreover, the Centre levied GST on food items which included wheat, rice, curd, he said, calling its "most cruel" step that any government in the past has ever taken. Kejriwal also cited 25 per cent cut in MNREGA fund by the Centre, and asked "Where is all the money going?"
"After Independence, it is for the first time that the central government is saying that pension bill of the soldiers have become unbearable for it," he charged. Kejriwal said the Centre is citing shortage of funds even as it has reduced the states' share in tax collected from all over the country to 29-30 per cent in past few years from from 42 per cent.
"Had they not waived loans of one's super rich friends' companies worth Rs 10 lakh crore, there would not have been any need to impose tax on food items. They would have adequate money to bear the pension of soldiers," he said.
Kejriwal said the Centre did not just waived crores of rupees of loans for "one's super rich friends" but also waived their liability to pay Rs 5 lakh crore tax over "the last few years". However, the common people feel cheated because the Centre did not provide any relief to them, he charged.
"How will country become self reliant in such a situation? How will this country progress if its money is spent on few people?" he asked. There seems to be something wrong with the Centre's finances the way it is "strongly opposing" free facilities for people, he said.
He said the Centre collects huge amount of taxes, including Rs 3.5 lakh per annum on petrol and diesel, and was still against providing people of the country free education, healthcare and other facilities.
"What has happened all of sudden that Centre is citing lack of funds even for paying pension to soldiers. There seems to be something wrong with its finances," he said.
Aam Aadmi Party national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also hit out at the BJP-led Centre and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has insulted the common people by using the words "free revadi" for facilities provided from the taxes paid by them. He called upon the masses to choose between the Arvind Kejriwal model of governance and that of PM Modi.
"Under Modi's model of governance, his millionaire and billionaire friends are made more richer," he alleged. Under the Kejriwal model of governance, taxpayers money is utilised in fulfilling "their basic necessities free of cost like electricity, water, medical care, education and travel," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)