AAP 'encouraging theft' by promising freebies like free water: Shiela Dikshit

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New Delhi, Feb 19: The Aam Admi Party (AAP), which came to power for the second time in Delhi -- with a record 67-seat win this time, is "encouraging theft" by promising people free water and cheap power, Congress leader Sheila Dikshit Thursday said observing that some of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's promises were simply "not achievable".

She also hastened to point out that the Delhi verdict "burst the BJP's bubble" and presaged far-reaching impact on assembly polls in Bihar and Assam later this year.

Former Delhi CM

Speaking of herself as "somebody who knows administration", Dikshit, who holds the distinction of being the chief minister of Delhi for three consecutive terms (1998-2013), said "there are things that are just not possible".

In a comprehensive interview, the Congress veteran asserted that Chief Minister Kejriwal can't dole out freebies. "You may promise freebies because you wanted the vote."

"Now that he is in power, his first priority should be to ensure power to everybody.

"When the government gives power (electricity) to somebody, then they have to pay for it. Otherwise, it will be considered theft. If you (Kejriwal) can make water a fundamental right, then good. But you are encouraging theft," said Dikshit, giving an example of how people would not use services judiciously if they were not asked to pay for them.

Dismissing any comparison between her and Kejriwal, she said: "I did what I felt was right. His (Kejriwal's) promise of 20,000 litres of water, free WiFi and cheap electricity are not achievable."

The poll verdict in Delhi that shrunk the BJP to mere three seats in a 70-member house has burst its bubble, leaving it rattled ahead of assembly elections in Bihar and Assam later this year, she added.

"Delhi results have an all-India impact. It's the political pulse of the nation because it's the capital of the country. I am sure it (BJP) is shaken now. The bubble has burst."

Describing the recent attacks on churches as "frightening and depressing", Dixit said: "I am relieved that the PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) spoke on the issue though very late after the damage had been done. The provision of the constitution is being violated... the prime minister has to protect it. That silence was worrying."

She said the "provocative voices - Ghar Wapasi or Love Jihad - had a licence because of the RSS-backed BJP at the Centre".

Reflecting on what did not work for the BJP in Delhi, she said the party was in "continuous campaign mode" with Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India campaign) and Make in India push of the prime minister.

"When you (the BJP) talk so much about it, people expect results. And when the results are not felt by the target group (in this case India), then people begin to get impatient. And that's what happened in Delhi."

With the national opposition, including the Congress, gearing up to unite to mount pressure on the Bharatiya-Janta Party (BJP)-led government in the upcoming budget session starting Monday, Dikshit expounded on the reason why "full" statehood for Delhi was not possible.

Carefully choosing her words, Dikshit called for a "strong political will", adding: "What Delhi needs is statehood with more power. Full statehood like that of Bihar or Madhya Pradesh is not possible."

"I have the experience and I know what language would work in making such demands. It is not possible because Delhi is the national capital and a union territory."

On being asked about the Congress's poor performance, the veteran said the chief ministerial face of the party - Ajay Maken - failed to "impress" people.

"Our campaign was a very sedate one. No vociferous campaign ... without a strong leadership. It's the acceptability of the candidate and the perception of the voter. Apparently, they were not impressed with Maken. But in electoral politics, it's not just an individual, it's a whole collective effort at the grassroots level to the top. The synergy was missing among everybody in the Congress.

"The Congress lost its traditional Muslim vote bank to the AAP because even they got carried away like the others who were the recipients of the freebies Kejriwal was giving out," she said.

But she agreed that the Congress party needed serious introspection in order to revive its waning fortunes.

IANS

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