Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday promised a host of healthcare benefits to the people of Punjab if voted to power in the Assembly elections next year.
Kejriwal’s election promises included free medicines, tests and surgeries in government hospitals, providing everyone a health card, setting up 16,000 village and mohalla (neighbourhood) clinics along the lines of those in Delhi, establishing new hospitals and renovating the existing ones.
At a press briefing, the Delhi chief minister said that the residents of Punjab would get good medical treatment if his party comes to power. “The treatment at government hospitals will be at par with the private ones,” he added.
Kejriwal also said that his government would bear the expenses of treatment of anyone involved in a road accident in the state.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader pointed to the lack of adequate facilities in Punjab government hospitals. “You don’t find doctors or nurses there,” he claimed. “The machines do not work.”
Kejriwal added: “People are forced to go to private hospitals where they are looted.”
The Delhi chief minister said he only made promises that he was able to fulfil in Delhi. “I have done my homework,” Kejriwal said at the press conference. “All this [ramping up health infrastructure] will not take a lot of money.”
“You can set up one mohalla clinic with Rs 20 lakh,” he added. “Delhi’s medicine budget is Rs 250 crore, in Punjab we estimate that it will be Rs 300 crore to Rs 350 crore.”
Kejriwal also spoke about the infighting within the Congress Punjab unit.
“Five years ago, the people [of Punjab] brought the Congress to power with great expectation but that government is not even visible,” he said. “The battle for power is going on, every leader of Congress wants to become the chief minister.”
The Punjab government was thrown into turmoil after Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as the chief of the Congress’ state unit on Tuesday. He is expected to meet Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for talks on Thursday.
Before that, the Congress struggled with a rift between Sidhu and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Singh had resigned as the Punjab chief minister on September 18, just months before the Assembly polls.