Eyeing Punjab Assembly elections, slated for March next year, AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced to provide 300 units of free power to every household in the state.
Announcing a slew of pre-poll sops, he said here that his party will provide uninterrupted round-the-clock power supply and waiver of pending electricity bills, if his Aam Aadmi Party forms the next government in the state.
"It will take three-four years for us to upgrade the infrastructure, and then we will be able to provide uninterrupted power supply," he said.
The Chief Minister said, with the provision of 300 units free electricity to every household, 77-80 per cent households will get zero bill.
ALSO READ | Modi discusses futuristic challenges in defence sector at high-level meet
Taking a jibe at Congress leader and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he said it was surprising that Punjab "makes its own electricity, still is most expensive in the country".
"Punjab can have the lowest rates for electricity if the alleged nexus between the politicians and electric companies is broken," Kejriwal said.
Stating that he had ensured a 24-hour uninterrupted power supply in Delhi within 2.5 years of being elected as Chief Minister by repairing the transformers and wires in every street, he said he would ensure the same in Punjab too.
He said in Delhi his government provided 200 units of free electricity to every family.
ALSO READ | Parl panel seeks explanation from Twitter for locking Prasad, Tharoor accounts
"The women are very happy. Women in Punjab are also very unhappy with inflation. The AAP government will also provide free electricity in Punjab," he added.
Later, AAP in a statement clarified that all existing electricity schemes will remain to continue in Punjab and the Punjabis will get 300 units per month free.
The statement quoting Kejriwal said all existing beneficiary categories which were getting 200 free units per month like the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, BPL families, freedom fighters, etc., will now get 300 free units per month, to be charged only for over and above 300 units per month.
In this way, if any of these beneficiaries consume 350 units in a month, then they will be charged for only 50 overstepped units, it said.
ALSO READ | Moderna gets nod as 4th Covid vax in India, Pfizer next
The first 300 units will be totally free for the consumers. All other non-beneficiaries who do not receive any electricity benefits currently will get 300 free units per month. If this category consumes more than 300 units per month, then they will have to pay for the whole consumption.
For example, if the non-beneficiary category consumes 350 units per month, then they will have to pay for 350 units, it added.
Responding to AAP's announcements, another opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said far from giving any relief to the common man through subsidized power, AAP would even do away with the 200 unit per month free power provided to the poor, including the Dalits and backward classes, by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Talking to the media here following a press conference addressed by Kejriwal, SAD senior leaders Bikram Singh Majithia and Daljit Singh Cheema said the Delhi Chief Minister had clearly admitted that the party's promise of 300 units per bill cycle free power facility would only be applicable in case the consumption was less than 300 units.
"Kejriwal when questioned on this issue admitted that in case the consumption was more than 300 units, consumers would have to pay the entire bill and would not get any subsidy at all. This amounts to playing a cruel joke on Punjabis as a majority of them will not be eligible for any benefit under this scheme.
"Instead the poor and disadvantaged will lose out on the 200 unit free power facility which was introduced by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal which is applicable without any conditions," they said.
Stating that Kejriwal was trying to introduce a flop model which had already failed in Delhi, Majithia also presented power bills of Delhi consumers that showed that they were charged Rs 5.30 per unit for bills slightly above 200 units and not extended any benefit of subsidized power.