Kejriwal's austerity veil falls apart

No harm in using official cars sans red beacon: CM

Kejriwal's austerity veil falls apart

 Within a week of taking charge, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has gone back on some of its promises of austerity.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had earlier said that he will rent a flat, has now decided to move into  two five-bedroom government flats on Bhagwan Das road. Also, several cabinet ministers were given Toyota Innova cars as official perks.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted sharply by alleging that the veil of austerity behind which the AAP was hiding so far to mislead the public had started to come off.

While AAP leaders said Kejriwal’s decision to take up a government flat was in line with his earlier stand of not taking a “big bungalow”, BJP’s Sahib Singh Chauhan reminded the AAP leaders that they had vowed before elections that they will live in a “normal house” like ordinary citizens.

“A 10-room housing complex is not available to even a Supreme Court judge. From which angle does Kejriwal’s new address appears to be a normal house,” said Chauhan, challenging all MLAs to take only a Re 1 token salary.

Kejriwal will move into a 5-room flat on Bhagwan Das Road and the adjacent flat number 7/7, which is of the same size, will double up as his camp office.

Kejriwal had been living in a flat alloted to his wife, who is an Indian Revenue Service official, in Kaushambi.

The chief minister said his official residence was not palatial. “My official house will be smaller than what was being used by my predecessor. My Kaushambi flat had four rooms and the new official house will have five. That is the only difference,” he said.

“I will be able to work early in the morning and till late in the evening if my office is close to the residence,” Kejriwal added.

BJP leader Harsh Vardhan has been taking a dig at Kejriwal saying the new chief minister and his party were initially using public transport and trying to put up a mask of austerity but things have changed now.

On Friday, some reporters questioned AAP ministers who were seen using official vehicles near the Delhi Assembly within one day of the government winning the trust vote.

Social Welfare Minister Rakhi Birla was one of them. “When we leave for official work we use the vehicle,” said the minister, who came to the secretariat in an autorickshaw a day after taking oath on December 28.

Kejriwal said using official vehicles was not in contravention of the party’s stand. “We vowed not to use vehicles with red beacons and not official vehicles,” he said.

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