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Union Minister tags Kejriwal as freebie CM

Union Minister tags Kejriwal as freebie CMUnion Minister Hardeep Singh Puri
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If one could win elections by providing things free of cost, Delhi Chief Minister would have made everything free, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday, taking a dig at city government's various schemes like free Metro rides for women and subsidised power bills.

New Delhi : If one could win elections by providing things free of cost, Delhi Chief Minister would have made everything free, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday, taking a dig at city government's various schemes like free Metro rides for women and subsidised power bills.

"It is not whether it should be free or not, but it should be how could you devise a system which is reasonably priced and efficient, said Puri, speaking at the 6th National Forum 2019 organised by Public Affairs Forum of India.

"If you can win elections by making everything free, Kejriwal would make everything free -- rides on buses, electricity. Some he would make completely free, others half-free. When you ask where the money is coming from, he would say there is corruption," he said.

Puri said Delhi has one of the finest Metro systems in the world that is not only cheap but also efficient. The Aam Aadmi Party government had recently announced making metro and bus rides free for women in Delhi. It had also announced free electricity to Delhi residents up to 200 units of power.

The announcements came ahead of the Delhi assembly polls due early next year. Countering the claim that Metro ridership has gone down since its fare hike, Puri said the footfall has rather "trebled" since the increase. "The ridership was 24-25 lakh then (before fare hike) but it has trebled since then.

It is 66 lakh now and going up by the day. Yes, there is a co-relation between fare and ridership but it is more dependent upon the overall demand and what kind of service you are providing," he said.

The Metro fare was hiked in 2017 after a gap of nine years. "The fare fixation committee in Delhi had not met for nine years. It was decided that since it has not been done in 9 years, it would be done in two installments,' said Puri.

"Despite opposition, some of us have the maturity to realise if we succumb to populist pressures, barely any infrastructure would be left. Whether you build a road or an airport, you have to be reasonable," he said.

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