Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday told an audience of sanitation workers who have not been paid salaries for the past three months that his government will “go out of its way” and pay all outstanding salaries owed till May 31.
Kejriwal said the government was doing all that it could, but attacked the Centre and their employers — the municipal corporations run by the BJP — for playing politics by suggesting that salaries had been intentionally stopped.
“Within one month of our government assuming power, the MCDs said that they had no money. This has never happened before. What did we do that they suddenly ran out of money? This shows that politics is in play,” Kejriwal said.
Speaking at a dialogue organised by the party, with the entire Delhi cabinet and senior officials of the government present, Kejriwal said, “Delhi government also gives money to the MCD every year. Till March 31, we released all money for salaries. We were told that by April, house tax would come in and salaries would be paid. But now I am told that salaries for April or May have also not been given.”
He said the Delhi government has limited money… but he will now give all salaries to everyone — doctors, teachers and sanitation workers till May 31. “For your information, last year when Delhi was under President’s rule, the Delhi government gave East corporation Rs 178 crore and North corporation Rs 327 crore,” he claimed.
Kejriwal also said the Centre was “bleeding them dry” and proposed that the state get back at least 50 per cent of what it pays in taxes. “Delhi gives Rs 1.3 lakh crore as tax, and we get back Rs 2,100 crore. How can we run Delhi properly. I understand that there are poor states where money has to be rerouted, but Delhi also has poor people. The Centre owes us Rs 600 crore, but not a paisa has come.”
Towards the end of his speech, Kejriwal said he had a “complaint” against some MCD workers. “These people influence you and you come and protest outside my house. The MCD is under the BJP and not under Kejriwal. I am ready to walk with every corporator from the BJP and the Congress to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask for money. If he can give so much money to Mongolia, he can give Delhi its due as well,” Kejriwal said.
AAP tugs at Dalit heart
On Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was back at Ramlila Maidan, a venue of much political symbolism for him and the Aam Aadmi Party. It was here that he became a national figure with Anna Hazare by his side at the India Against Corruption movement, and it was here that his year-old party first took the oath of office. It was also here that Kejriwal became Chief Minister for the second time. So while the job was to soothe angry MCD workers, politics could not have been far behind.
In a fired-up speech, minister Gopal Rai said that people wanted to “fail the samvad” because they want the Delhi government and the safai karmacharis to fight among themselves. “They cannot take that a chief minister is talking to you directly and are trying to create a divide. But you are one of us. People showed black flags, tried to make you get up from your seats and leave the venue. But when they reached the exit, they saw nobody followed them out,” Rai said.
Caste was a motif as well with Cheemaji Maharaj, a religious and spiritual leader for Valmikis across the capital. He spoke of how Kejriwal had lifted them and worked for them.
“The Valmiki samaj has always worked for the city…We never got representation in ministerial posts. But in the first term, I got a call from Arvind Kejriwal and he told me that he was making Rakhi Birla a minister. We have to keep up the support because only Kejriwal keeps us in his heart. We have to plan and treat 2017 (MCD polls) as a mission,” he said.
Even minister Sandeep Kumar referred to his caste as he spoke, and said that after Birla, “the community has another son in him” as minister. “I never thought I would be a minister. Sultanpur Majra is my village and I feel your pain. I met people who have not been paid salaries. I want to tell you to keep faith in this government,” Kumar said.