The Aam Aadmi Party is gearing up to make a fresh push in the national arena ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announcing a plan to hold parleys with counterparts in non-BJP states, in a bid to corner the Centre over the proposed reforms in the power sector.
Kejriwal said the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003, were a frontal attack on the federal structure, as implementing them would render the states toothless in the power sector — a Concurrent List subject that can legislated on by both the states and the Centre.
Addressing a press conference at his residence, Kejriwal claimed that the amendments, once approved, would result in up to a five time increase in power tariffs across states.
This will happen due to phasing out of cross-subsidies, which allow states to charge higher costs from commercial and industrial consumers to provide respite to the domestic segment, he said, adding that the Centre was planning to get the Bill cleared during the Winter Session of Parliament.
The Ministry of Power had sent a copy of the draft Bill to Delhi, along with other states, on September 7, inviting comments within 45 days.
“I appeal to people across the country to raise their voice against it. Day after tomorrow, I will write to all CMs, BJP as well as non-BJP. I will personally go and meet all non-BJP CMs. I will go to their states and explain why we should protest. I will meet all MPs of non-BJP parties not having CMs. We will try our best to stall its passage in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
The AAP chief, who will hold the meetings before the deadline to send comments expires, did not specifically mention if his outreach will include the Congress as well. During the 2014 general elections, not only had AAP fielded candidates across the country, Kejriwal had directly contested against PM Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
Subsequently, a massive victory in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls had rekindled AAP’s ambitions to expand its base, but poor outcomes in Punjab, Goa and the Delhi Municipal polls had forced the party to make a retreat.
Kejriwal said the proposed amendments may appear to be a politically immature move on the BJP’s part, but it was being done to “extend favours to a few selected companies before the polls as the Prime Minister has perhaps realised that he is going to lose”.
The amendments also seek to promote forward and future trading in the power sector, he said. He added that the average cost of power across slabs in Delhi would be Rs 7.40 per unit in case the Bill gets cleared. In order to maintain the current tariff structure, the state government will have to increase its subsidy to Rs 6.40 from Rs 2 per unit for consumption below 200 units, and Rs 4.90 per unit for consumption between 200-400 units, he said.
“No state government, including the Delhi government, will be able to bear such financial burden. The constitution committees of the state regulatory commissions will be packed with people from the Centre. Their performances will be reviewed by the Centre. The Centre will also fix power tariffs for commissions across the country,” he said.