In the run up to Rajasthan elections, a fresh war has erupted between the BJP and Congress over electricity rates. State’s leader of opposition, Rajendra Rathore, slammed chief minister Ashok Gehlot over his “poll gimmick” and said that people will not be fooled by sudden announcements made by a party that has looted them for years.
His remarks came after Gehlot waived charges for the first 100 units of electricity for all households irrespective of their total consumption per month.
Calling the CM ‘ghoshna-veer’ (expert in announcements), Rathore sarcastically lauded him for his “excellent timing”. He said that Gehlot was so impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “energetic address” in Rajasthan that the chief minister was forced to “announce relief late at night”.
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“After looting the public for 4 and a half years, now as soon as the election year approaches, the public will not be fooled by your sudden announcement of waiving fuel surcharge and other charges in electricity bills. There is a flaw in both your policy and intention,” LoP Rathore tweeted.
“This is the limit. The Congress government, which collected an average of 55 paise per unit fuel surcharge from electricity consumers for 4 and a half years, is now doing a gimmick of waiving fuel surcharge up to 200 units,” he added.
Comparing the fuel surcharge during the previous BJP government, Rathore said that before 2019 the rates were just 18 paise per unit on average.
“When the entrepreneurs are on strike due to the increase in fuel surcharge, then why are the industrial units not waiving the fuel surcharge?” the LoP asked.
Rathore said that before the CM’s announcement comes into effect, the government should at least pay the outstanding amount to the electricity companies against the subsidy given to the consumers.
“Before declaring the rate, you should at least pay the outstanding amount of 15 thousand and 180 crores to the electricity companies against the subsidy given to the electricity consumers. There is a loss of about 1 lakh 20 thousand crores of discoms and for the expenditure of subsidy, power companies have to take loans of 60 thousand crores from banks every year, whose interest is also about 6,500 crores annually. It would be better if the government pays them first and then makes announcements,” he added.
Rathore further said that the public will benefit from reduced electricity bills only when they consume it. He claimed that electricity consumers are forced to bear the brunt of undeclared power cuts for several hours in urban and rural areas of the state.
“It would have been better if you had announced some relief regarding corruption in expensive power purchases, coal purchases and turnkey projects in connection with farmers. It would have been better to say something about when the announcements made to supply electricity to the farmers in two blocks a day and to form a new agricultural power distribution company will be completed,” the LoP said while attacking the Congress government.
Ashok Gehlot’s Late Night Waiver
On Wednesday, Gehlot had tweeted, “The first 100 units of electricity will be given free of cost to families who consume more than 100 units per month. That is, no matter how much the bill comes, they will not have to pay any electricity charge for the first 100 units.”
The chief minister said that keeping the middle-class people in mind, those who consume electricity up to 200 units per month, the first 100 units will be free. Along with this, fixed charges, fuel surcharge and all other charges for consumption up to 200 units will be waived, he said.
According to sources, only electricity charges need to be given between 100 to 200 units. Gehlot made the announcement based on feedback received during inflation relief camps in which registration for 10 schemes including the free electricity scheme is being done.
The Rajasthan chief minister, in a tweet, said the bill of those who consume electricity up to 100 units per month will remain zero and they will not have to pay any bill like before. Gehlot had in the budget earlier this year announced free electricity up to 100 units per month. Assembly elections in Rajasthan are slated to be held later this year.