Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that instead of buying a Rs 191-crore aircraft for himself, he chose to introduce free rides for women in public buses, NDTV reported. Kejriwal was referring to the purchase of a jet for the use of his Gujarat counterpart Vijay Rupani earlier this month.

The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had justified the purchase saying that the twin-engine Bombardier Challenger 650 plane was a necessity as the previous aircraft was 20 years old. In a statement, the party had said that the new plane would curb the annual expense of Rs 5 crore required for maintaining the 20-year-old plane, according to PTI.

“When the common man is afraid of travelling in a 10-year-old vehicle, CM Vijay Rupani is risking his life by flying in a 20-year-old plane,” the statement read. “The government’s helicopter is dangerous to fly. That helicopter was forced to make emergency landing twice in 2017. Since then, in view of CM’s safety, only private helicopter is being used on most occasions.”

However, Kejriwal used this as a point to criticise Rupani. “The Opposition raised a hue and cry when we implemented the scheme [of free rides],” said Kejriwal, according to The Indian Express. “They ask for the money source. A few days ago, the chief minister of a state bought an aircraft worth Rs 190 crore for his personal use.”

Kejriwal said the Opposition parties were unhappy with his administration’s schemes. “We made 200 units of power consumption free and opposition leaders are opposing it,” he said, reported NDTV. “Their MPs get free 4,000 units free, but if a driver gets it, they are pained.”

Free travel for women in buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation and cluster buses was announced on October 29. Kejriwal had said the scheme would help bridge gender inequality.

The BJP had criticised the Delhi government’s move saying that it was simply handing out freebies for political mileage. Assembly elections in the national Capital are slated for early next year.

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The Daily Fix: Delhi’s free bus rides for women are welcome. Other cities should follow its example

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