Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday remarked that “revdi culture” in government welfare schemes saddens the average taxpayer, The Hindu reported.

Modi made the statement while addressing a housewarming ceremony of over 4.5 lakh persons who got homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin.

“Now that I am giving away these four lakh houses, every taxpayer in the country must be thinking that a poor brother in Madhya Pradesh will also get to celebrate Deepavali like her, [the beneficiary] is getting a pakka house due to which his daughter’s life will be improved. But what hurts them the most is the money taken from them being used to distribute revdis,” he said.

A revdi is a sweet made of jaggery and sesame, and the word is sometimes used in Hindi as a metaphor for the distribution of freebies.

Modi said that many such taxpayers were “bracing to rid the country of revdi culture” and had written to him in this regard. “When a taxpayer feels that her money is being spent for the right cause, then she is happy and satisfied and keeps on paying more taxes,” he said.

Modi had spoken about “revdi culture” for the first time at an event in Uttar Pradesh on July 16, when he accused the Opposition of promising freebies for votes. The remark led to severe criticism from Opposition parties, who pointed to loan-write-offs to corporate entities and welfare schemes run by states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking a ban on promises of “freebies” by political parties.

‘Centre’s assistance saved 1.5 crore jobs during pandemic’

At a separate event, Modi said that policies and reforms carried out in the past eight years were the reasons why the country could tide over the Covid-19 pandemic, The Indian Express reported.

“The Central government’s help of more than Rs 3 lakh crore to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector during the Covid pandemic saved over 1.5 crore jobs that were in crisis,” he said.

The prime minister made the statement while launching the Rozgar Mela, a Union government drive to recruit 10 lakh persons over 18 months. On Saturday, 75,000 new recruits in 38 Union ministries and departments were given appointment letters.

Modi said that no one expects to recover from the biggest crisis in a hundred years in just a hundred days. “But we have been able to shield the impact so far with everyone’s efforts,” he said. “And that has been possible because over the last eight years, we have removed the economic shortcomings that created hurdles.”

However, Opposition leaders alleged that the prime minister had fallen short of promises on unemployment that he had made in the past.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the figure of 70,000 jobs was much lower than what was needed, but added that the prime minister acknowledging the problem of unemployment was an achievement of the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

“The government had promised 16 crore jobs in eight years – 2 crore jobs every year,” he remarked, describing the announcement on Saturday as event management.

Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh also questioned why only 70,000 jobs were handed out, in comparison to the promise of 2 crore jobs a year. “According to the CMIE [Centre for Monitoring Economy], India is seeing its biggest level of unemployment in 45 years,” he said. “Stop making false promises, and ensure jobs.”