“BJP wants us to swallow the money… that’s why they have so many complaints against free Metro and bus services for women,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to residents of South Delhi’s Humayunpur village.
For over 90 minutes Saturday morning, Kejriwal went across various localities in South Delhi to listen to residents’ woes and provide answers. Apart from water and electricity, the Metro figured prominently in conversations.
“Aap hi batao, ye plan acha hai ki nahi?” asked Kejriwal at Krishna Nagar, referring to the proposal to make travel in buses and Delhi Metro free for women. While many women cheered, some, like Jasmeet Kaur (24), said: “Metro is a secondary concern, we cannot live without water anymore. I have to spend a lot of money on water daily, it’s not easy.”
Kejriwal responded that a borewell had been put a metre away only recently. “I have got this installed and it will be functional in two days. This is why I am here — to solve your problems.”
Sensing some dissatisfaction among residents, Kejriwal asked if “water tankers” will solve the problem. “Should I send a tanker? One, two, three? Tell me how many, I will send it,” he said.
At the next stop — DDA flats in Safdarjung Enclave — conversation veered towards free Metro, waste management and jobs. Sumita Mondal (43), a domestic help, who attended the padyatra, said, “It’s good to have a CM who cares about women. Rents are high and water is expensive, but if Metro is made free for women, at least one expense will come down.” While one resident requested the CM to “find jobs” for her sons, another complained about “street lights being switched on during the day”.
In another locality, four middle-aged women complained about lack of cleanliness. “No one comes to pick up garbage, we have complained about this before… we have to pay a private company,” said a resident Sheila Devi.
In another part of Safdarjung Enclave, two environmentalists complained about “rampant construction in the area”. “Trees that are 40-50 years old are being uprooted here,” they said.
After the CM was slapped by a man in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar during a campaign rally on May 4, tighter security arrangements on Saturday led many to bemoan about being unable to talk to him. One of them was a man in his 70s, who wanted to speak about “insufficient pension”.
Apart from his security officials creating a tight circle around him, a yellow rope kept Kejriwal at some distance from locals. The CM left after visiting a temple, following which area MLA Somnath Bharti continued the padyatra till 2.30 pm.
“It’s good that the CM has come to meet us,” said 40-year-old Kiran, adding, “I hope the promises are kept even after assembly elections are over.”