New Delhi: A billboard image showing Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal promising a monthly payment of Rs 1,000 to ‘mothers and daughters’ of Himachal Pradesh has gone viral on social media.
The image was widely shared by Twitter users, including Delhi BJP spokesperson Nighat Abbass.
सच्ची बात 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/KvTJZYNpje
— Nighat Abbass 🇮🇳 (@abbas_nighat) April 8, 2022
Abbass tweeted the picture Friday with the caption “true story”. The post had amassed several retweets, with many users throwing jibes at Kejriwal.
Many of her followers criticised Kejriwal for acting like a “beggar” by asking the central government for funds to fulfill his promises. Other social media users found parallels with Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, which has been triggered due to large public debt and high borrowings. Twitter user @sharaddubey10 questioned if the Delhi chief minister intended to take India down a similar path by requesting money and attempting to make Delhi and Punjab “poor” states.
— मेरा देश सर्वोपरी (@devilicioushems) April 8, 2022
कहाँ से देगा "बे" । फोकटिया योजनाओं से श्रीलंका की दुर्दशा देख ले । क्या दिल्ली और पंजाब को फकीर राज्य बनाने की मंशा है यदि हाँ तो पहले खुद कटोरा लेकर बैठ जाए। https://t.co/TQZNekF8PG
— शरद द्विवेदी (@sharaddubey10) April 8, 2022
AAP critics ridiculed Kejriwal for promising “freebies”, calling it a way to “buy votes”. User @ANIMESHSINGHALL called it a threat to the country’s economy, while also praising the ruling BJP for not engaging in such “habits” and instead focusing on making people “self-reliant”. Comparisons were also drawn to similar promises, made in the past in Delhi and Punjab, that are yet to be fulfilled.
केंद्र सरकार इससे बहुत ज्यादा देती है। वो लोगों को आत्मनिर्भर बनाने की और अग्रसर है। परन्तु कुछ राजनीतिक पार्टियां लोगों को फ्री की आदत डाल कर सब कुछ बर्बाद कर रही है।
देश की अर्थव्यवस्था को ऐसी राजनीतिक पार्टियों से खतरा है।
— अनिमेष सिंघल (@ANIMESHSINGHALL) April 8, 2022
— Digvijay Diwakar (@digvijay0501) April 8, 2022
The image was also sarcastically dubbed AAP’s manifesto for Himachal Pradesh. Some Twitter users called for an investigation into it by the Election Commission and Supreme Court. They also highlighted that “economists” have warned against the announcement of freebies.
Many economist have warned against the announcements of freebies by Mr. Kejriwal & many leaders also.
— That Marine Guy 🇮🇳 (@thatmarineguy21) April 8, 2022
A few days earlier, AAP leader Satyendar Jain had hit out against those who were criticising their party for freebies, claiming that these politicians always end up copying the party’s schemes.
“First they shout ‘free-free’, and then they try to copy us later. Everyone is trying to copy us. They admit that they cannot beat AAP’s standards, but they still copy us with whatever little they can,” Jain had said at a press conference in Himachal Pradesh.
AAP is gearing up for elections in Himachal Pradesh, which are scheduled to take place in November. The party is planning to kick off campaigning from Mandi, the home seat of incumbent Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
Truth behind the picture
The original message on the hoarding showed Kejriwal thanking Delhi (“Dhanyawad Dilli”). In the viral image circulating on social media, the message on the billboard had been photoshopped. GoNewsIndia posted a video Tuesday which showed the actual image.
News website India Today had published a story about the original hoarding as far back as 2015. Kejriwal’s image had captured attention as he was seen sporting a khaki jacket instead of his trademark muffler on billboards across Delhi. The poster had appeared before his oath-taking ceremony after he had led his party to a historic win in Delhi.
The same picture had also appeared in 2020 on a Reddit thread discussing an RTI reply revealing the amount of money the Delhi government had spent to organise Laxmi Puja.”