Kejriwal giving 'perverse twist' to debate on freebies: Sitharaman
New Delhi, Aug 11: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for giving a "perverse twist" to the debate on freebies, saying the AAP leader's comments are an attempt to create fears in the minds of the poor.
A day after Kejriwal joined the debate on freebies calling for a referendum on spending taxpayers' money on healthcare and education, Sitharaman said that spending on these two has never been called or classified as freebies since Independence and to drag them now into the debate is to give a perverse twist.
"Delhi Chief Minister has given perverse twist to the debate on freebies. Health and education have never been called freebies," she told reporters here.
"No Indian government has ever denied them since Independence. So, by classifying education and health as freebies, Kerjiwal is trying to bring in a sense of worry and fear in minds of poor," she said.
In recent days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hit out competitive populism of extending "rewaris" (freebies) which are not just wastage of taxpayers' money but also an economic disaster that could hamper India's drive to become Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant).
His comments were seen directed at parties like AAP which have in the run-up to assembly elections in states like Punjab promised free electricity and water, among other things.
Sitharaman said there has to be a genuine debate on the issue and everyone should participate in it.