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Friday, February 21, 2020

Shah sharpens education attack, CM hits back: ‘Don’t insult our kids’

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led the charge against Shah at a press conference during the day. The thrust of Kejriwal’s speech at a rally in the Greater Kailash constituency, where sitting MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj is pitted against BJP’s Shikha Rai, later in the evening was also along similar lines.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi | Updated: January 26, 2020 2:34:53 am
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Express Photo)

With two weeks to go for the Delhi Assembly polls, the ruling AAP Saturday mounted a strong defense of its track record in education, suggesting that Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion that the capital’s schools were in a bad shape amounted to “insulting the children and teachers” of these institutions.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led the charge against Shah at a press conference during the day. The thrust of Kejriwal’s speech at a rally in the Greater Kailash constituency, where sitting MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj is pitted against BJP’s Shikha Rai, later in the evening was also along similar lines.

Shah is “mocking” the people of Delhi and “insulting the hard work” of the children in Delhi government schools, Kejriwal said in both his addresses, seeking to put the BJP on the defensive. The reform in Delhi’s school education sector is among the AAP’s biggest poll planks.

On Friday, Shah had claimed that contrary to its promise of building 500 new schools, under the AAP government, existing schools were also in a bad shape. “There are no principals in 700 schools, no science wing in over 1,000 schools, a shortage of around 19,000 teachers. The Kejriwal government has failed to spend 30% of its education budget,” Shah claimed.

There are 1,026 Delhi government-run schools while 207 receive its aid. In February 2019, the government had told the Delhi Assembly that since 2015, 8,089 new classrooms have been built while 12,748 more are coming up. The government has also completed the construction of 25 new school buildings, sanctioned before it took over, while 30 more have been sanctioned, the House was told.

On Saturday, Kejriwal said the transformation of Delhi’s schools was the talk of the entire country. He pointed out that the class XII pass percentage in Delhi government schools was 96%, as opposed to 93% in the city’s private schools.

“The situation is just the opposite in UP, Haryana, MP, Rajasthan. How did it become 96% in Delhi? Kejriwal just made the arrangements. Our 16 lakh children, their parents, and 65,000 teachers worked hard. You abuse me, the AAP. But please don’t demoralise our children, don’t insult them. I wonder what must have been going through the minds of the children when they saw their Home Minister ridiculing their hardwork,” the AAP chief said.

He also referred to Shah dining at the house of a BJP worker on Friday night.

“You are suddenly reminded of our workers. Where were you when private schools were raising fees and power bills were going up? Kejriwal was the one who brought the bills down,” he said.

Meanwhile, four-time BJP MLA Harsharan Singh Balli Saturday joined AAP in the CM and Deputy CM’s presence. Balli has been an MLA from Hari Nagar Assembly constituency, and a minister in the Madan Lal Khurana-led Delhi cabinet.

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