With the Centre under fire from all political parties for its resistance to fresh elections in Delhi, BJP leader and finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday told the Rajya Sabha that he hoped a political solution would emerge to the stalemate in the capital.
“I hope some political solution will come out to help in government formation or fresh elections will be held in Delhi,” Jaitley said. He was replying to the debate on the Delhi Budget, during which all the speakers said the BJP should allow elections to happen so that a government can be instituted and the infrastructure issues that the city is suffering from can be sorted.
The Upper House returned the Rs 36,766-crore Delhi Budget by a voice vote, a day after Lok Sabha had passed it.
Delhi has been under President’s rule following the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal, in February this year, after remaining in power for 49 days.
Jaitley was responding to Congress’s Parvez Hashmi and Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Aggarwal’s contentions that the absence of an elected government in Delhi was affecting infrastructure, especially in power and water supply. Both said fresh elections are the only way to prevent horse-trading for the formation of a new government and address the city’s issues.
Hashmi also questioned why the power subsidy was not being extended and asked why the government will not reimburse the inflated bills that Delhiites had to pay because of the expiry of the subsidy regime after April.
“Subsidies are only prospective. They are never retrospective… When you had the government at the Centre then, on April 1 you could have asked the then government for subsidy,” Jaitley replied.
He said that power bills of 84 per cent of households in the capital will reduce immediately because of provisions in the Central Budget and Delhi Budget and also promised better infrastructure, more hospitals and educational institutions for the capital.
Noting that Delhi is a city of business, he said of the Rs 36,766 crore in the Budget, Rs 31,570 crore was collected through taxes from Delhi alone, while Rs 1,161 crore came from non-tax revenue. Also, the Central government’s grant-in-aid for Delhi was to the tune of Rs 3,672 crore. He also said Delhi will have 1,380 more low-floor and 400 cluster buses for slums.