21:35 GMT12 May 2021
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The government of India’s national capital Delhi has rolled out a plan for free travel for women on public transport buses, but that's not the end of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's freebie list.

    Kejriwal's government, which will be facing the electorate in early 2020, has announced free electricity and water. Earlier in October, Kejriwal had announced zero billing for power consumption up to 200 units to benefit about 1.4 million low-consumption customers, while power consumption between 201 and 400 units would be given a 50 percent subsidy.

    The government was already running a scheme to provide free water up to a monthly household consumption of 20,000 litres.

    Kejriwal announced on Tuesday (29 October) that a scheme for free travel on public transport buses would be extended to senior citizens and students also. In a video message in Hindi, he said it would be implemented in a phased manner.

    “There is also a demand for extending this facility of free travel on buses to senior citizens and students. Certainly (we will) do. This is the first step (free travel for women). We will evaluate this scheme and extend it to senior citizens and students in future", said Kejriwal.

    ​The chief minister expressed the hope that free travel would help more girl-students to go to school and women to work, without bothering about the cost of travel.

    Kejriwal had earlier suggested free travel for women on the Delhi Metro also. However, it was shot down by the federal government, which manages the Delhi Metro, though the Delhi government is also a partner in the facility.

    Opposition parties in Delhi – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have criticised the move, deeming it an “election stunt”.

    "The way it is implemented before polls, it’s nothing but a stunt. If the number of buses were raised to 12,000 which was not done by the AAP (Aam Admi Party) government in five years, lakhs of people, including senior citizens and students, could also have benefited", said Manoj Tiwari, President of the BJP in Delhi.

    "We welcome the move but what was the Kejriwal government was doing earlier. Timing of the scheme is aimed at getting votes. I think students should also be provided free ride in public transport buses", commented Subhash Chopra, President of the Congress in Delhi.

    Delhi is not a full-fledged state; it has only limited administrative powers and policing is directly under the control of the federal government and all of the state government's policy decisions need to be approved by the lieutenant governor, who is the constitutional representative of the President of India.


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    Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi, India
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