After months of bitter power tussle with the Modi dispensation, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today pitched for “synergy” between the Centre and the city government in his Independence Day speech, saying a cooperative approach was key for development while insisting that “differences” are healthy in a democracy.
In his 40-minute-long speech, Kejriwal ran through the AAP government’s “unprecedented” achievements in its first six months, mainly in social sectors and in curbing corruption, saying Delhi has an “honest chief minister, ministers and officials”.
“I have political differences with Modiji. But differences are healthy in a democracy, it’s a good thing to have differences. But it is important to have synergy between the two as well. Such cooperative arrangements are needed for development. Since we are running governments, we should have a working arrangement irrespective of our major ideological differences,” he said at the fag end of his address after unfurling the tricolour.
Referring to distributing of compensation to victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal showered lavish praise on Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying he wholeheartedly cooperated with his government on the issue.
“Cheques will be distributed soon and I want the first cheque to be handed over by Rajnath Singhji. He has assured us that the money for it will be given by Centre,” he said adding Rs five lakh each will be given to families of the victims.
Interestingly, he did not refer to the acrimony between the city government and the Lt Governor due to the ongoing power tussle over issues of administrative jurisdiction among others.
At the function held at Chhatrasal stadium, he also took salute of contingents comprising personnel from Delhi Police, Delhi Home Guards, Civil Defence, NCC and Delhi Fire Services before.
Referring to power tariff slash, which he said has eased the life of the common man considerably, he said cost may further come down and that the capital was “power surplus”.
“Power is being bought at Rs 5/unit in Delhi at the moment. Many companies have offered us Rs 2.5/3 per unit in 5 year agreements. But previous governments have entered into 30-year-long agreements. I urge Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal to cancel those agreements,” he said.
Kejriwal said the government was on course to fulfill another of its major electoral promises by launching the education loan guarantee scheme for higher education in the next one month.
“Higher education fees are beyond the reach of common man today. It is difficult to get bank loans without mortgaging property. We are launching our education loan guarantee scheme within a month which will require no such mortgage. In case of inability to pay back, the government will pay,” he said.
Noting that AAP had come to power on the anti-corruption plank, Kejriwal said that even the party’s staunchest critics acknowledge its repute in his regard.
“Until now we had government of, by and for the corrupt. The river of corruption flows from the top to the bottom. Today we have a clean top in the form of an honest chief minister, other ministers. We have appointed honest officers as well.
“Only because of that we have been able to build swanky new neighbourhood clinics, in reduced cost, 1000 of which would come up in the next one year,” he said.
The heavens opened up 30 minutes into Kejriwal’s speech but the Chief Minister asked the audience and participants of the march past, largely comprising students to stay put and continued his address.
Earlier, a woman officer of the Delhi Police, ACP Richa Tomar led the parade, consisting of large number of girls contingents. He also gave away awards for meritorious service to two serving police officers, bravery awards and posthumous awards.
In his first Independence Day speech after capturing power, he attributed AAP’s massive success in the Assembly polls to the “frustration” among the people with the political system terming AAP as a “ray of hope”.
“The people of Delhi have shown the way to the country, a path of alternative politics,” he said.
“After going through our achievements and initiatives like providing compensation of Rs 50,000/hectare to farmers for crop loss, people across the country are asking their governments, if Delhi government can why can’t you?” he asked.
Kejriwal promised a clean Yamuna saying Union Water Resources Ministry led by Uma Bharti and the Delhi government would work together to make this possible.
“She came to my office and promised all possible help. I was surprised to see her with her officials. We will ensure a clean Yamuna so that you will be able to hold picnics on its banks,” he said.
Stressing on the importance of local governance, Kejriwal said the government would bring in a law on ‘mohalla sabhas’.