Centre, AAP in tussle over free rides scheme

New Delhi


Barely a week after the BJP-led NDA government assumed charge for a second term at the Centre, its friction with Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seems to have revived with the two countering each other's schemes.

While the Centre did not seem to be interested in AAP's proposed move to offer free rides to women in Delhi Metro and DTC buses in the capital, the Delhi government is keeping itself away from the NDA's Ayushman Bharat Yojana.

On Monday, the Delhi government announced that it was planning to subsidise the fares of Delhi Metro and DTC and cluster buses to make them free for women. 

However, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday that he has not received any proposal from the Delhi government to provide free rides to women.

Although the AAP government said that it will launch the scheme within the next three months, it has not yet released a full plan. 

Taking a dig at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Puri said, "You can't announce a scheme first and then prepare a proposal."

Reacting to Puri's comments, Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia said that the Delhi government had both the plan and the money to offer free rides to women. 

"With all due respect, I want to tell Puri that the government of Delhi has both the plan and the money to offer free metro and bus rides to women. I just request him to smile and give us his blessings. Delhi government will implement the plan in a very efficient manner," Sisodia said.

The senior AAP leader added that the government has been conducting meetings over the proposed scheme.

"We have conducted several official meetings over the issue in the last three-four days. The Transport Minister has met officials of the transport and metro department in the last few days. The Chief Minister and I have held meetings over the issue. We are coming up with a very good scheme. We are also receiving feedbacks from the people of Delhi. Once finalised, we will share the plan with you," he said.

"As the Finance Minister of Delhi, I can assure you that we don't have any dearth of money for the scheme," Sisodia added.

Meanwhile, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Galot said that Puri's claim that no communication has been made with regard to the free rides scheme was wrong.

"We issued orders to the Transport Commissioner on June 3 to collect full plans from the Delhi Metro, DTC and cluster buses. On the same day, the Transport Commissioner wrote a letter to the DMRC on the issue," he said.

He also said that official communication was going on and meetings were being held regularly. "It won't be right to say that no meeting has happened or no official communication took place," Gehlot said.

Puri also said that the Delhi government was not using its budget for the Centre's Swacchh Bharat scheme and the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, but instead wanted to offer free rides to women. 

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan had written to the Delhi government for implementing the Ayushman Bharat Yojana as it was among the few states such Odisha, Telangana and West Bengal which didn't implement the scheme.

However, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that AAP will not implement the scheme in the capital. "If Ayushman Bharat is such a good scheme, why are the patients from the BJP-ruled states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh not treated through it? Why are they forced to come to the government hospitals in Delhi for treatment," Jain asked.IANS