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Addressing people on the occasion of Independence Day at Chhatrasal Stadium, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said citizens of Delhi needed an explanation for being treated like “half-citizens” of the country.
A year since he sought to bring about a “working arrangement” with the Centre in his maiden Independence Day speech, Kejriwal Monday said Delhi had regressed to British times when people chose their representatives but the representatives had no powers. “In the last year-and-a-half, the elected government had as good as no rights. It can take no decisions on its own,” he said.
Using pre-independence analogy, Kejriwal said, “In 1935, the British brought in the Government of India Act. In that Act, the British gave Indians the right to appoint their representatives. But these representatives had no right to run the government. The British would run the government, the people would only choose their representatives. The arrangement in Delhi is the same as that enforced by the British in 1935. You can choose your MLAs, your ministers, your chief minister, your public representatives but your representatives have no right to run the government. The government will be run by someone else,” said Kejriwal.
Since it took charge of the Delhi administration in February 2015, the AAP government has been engaged in a turf war with the BJP at the Centre. Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court ruled that the capital continues to be a union territory under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor.
“The people of Delhi are very angry. They want to know why the value of their vote is less than that of the people in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh or Haryana. If the value of a vote in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh or Haryana is 100 points, in Delhi it’s less than 20 points. The people of Delhi want to know. Why are we treated like half-citizens of this country? Do we pay less tax? Are we less patriotic than people in other states? Why don’t people in Delhi have their democratic rights?”
The chief minister also announced that the AAP government had decided to revise minimum wages in the state by over 45 per cent.
“Inflation has made it difficult for even a poor person to get his meals or send his children to school. Gandhi ji has also said that when you do something, do it keeping the last person in mind. Our government is for everyone but it is more for the middle-class and the poor,” said Kejriwal.
He added that the government had decided to increase the minimum wage for unskilled labourers from Rs 9,500 to Rs 14,000, for semi-skilled labourers from Rs 10,600 to Rs 15,500 and for skilled labourers from Rs 11,600 to Rs 17,000. He said the decision will be finalised in a Cabinet meeting later this week.
“I appeal to finance ministers in all states and the prime minister to similarly increase minimum wages all over the country,” said Kejriwal.