Scaling up the Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign in Gujarat for the elections later this year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced five “guarantees” for overhauling the state’s healthcare and raising them to the “shaandaar” (magnificent) levels of the national capital.
“Government health systems are being finished so that people have to go to private systems which charge exorbitant prices. In Delhi, we improved the government health system and made treatment for the people free and shaandaar,” he said on his fifth visit to the state in less than a month.
Listing the five “guarantees”, he said, “Everyone in Gujarat will have free and quality healthcare.”
“There will be no discrimination between rich and poor. Both will have access to quality healthcare,” Mr Kejriwal said.
“Every village and ward will have a mohalla clinic like in Delhi,” he said, referencing the neighbourhood clinics that have attracted international acclaim.
“All government hospitals will be improved to the level of private hospitals. And new hospitals will be opened,” he said.
“If anybody has an accident, their treatment will be paid for in full, even in a private hospital. We have saved 13,000 lives in Delhi through this,” Mr Kejriwal announced.
The pledges were the latest in a series announced by the Delhi Chief Minister in the AAP’s all-out effort to turn the usual two-way contest between the Congress and the ruling BJP in Gujarat into a three-way fight this time.
Mr Kejriwal also made promises of Rs 1 crore compensation for policemen killed in the line of duty and raising salaries of public transport staff, calling on bus drivers and conductors to urge passengers to vote for the AAP. A similar outreach to autorickshaw drivers in Delhi had helped the AAP greatly in Delhi.
On earlier occasions, he has promised 300 units of free electricity to every household in the state, 10 lakh government jobs and a Rs 3,000 unemployment allowance, benefits for tribal communities, and a Rs 1,000 monthly allowance for women.
The AAP’s promises have drawn sharp rebuke from the ruling BJP, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, who has sparked a nationwide debate on freebies, which he has dubbed “revdis” – north Indian winter munchies.
Mr Kejriwal has hit back, saying it was highly unfair to call investments in healthcare, education and public welfare “freebies”.