Battle over AAP model of schools escalates further
The face-off between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Delhi government's education model continued on Monday with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia challenging BJP leader Manoj Tiwari to arrest him or apologise over his recent graft accusation. Tiwari, BJP's Delhi chief and MP from North East Delhi, had alleged that chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia were involved in a `2,000 crore scam in the construction of classrooms, a charge that the deputy chief minister refuted.
"I want to challenge Manoj Tiwari and the BJP. If an accused of `2,000 crore scam is roaming free in Delhi, nothing can be more shameful for you. If Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia have committed the scam, arrest them. Either arrest me by the evening or apologise to the public," Sisodia said in a press conference. Sisodia, who is also the Delhi education minister, shared pictures of the Delhi government schools to take a shot on the BJP leader's allegation. Kejriwal also pitched in and extended his support on the micro-blogging site.
"We have realised dreams of poor parents to have their child enrolled in a good school. Earlier 70% kids of Delhi would study in broken classrooms. We improved the conditions of the classrooms," Kejriwal said. Tiwari had earlier said that an RTI revealed that the Delhi government showed an expenditure of `2,900 crore for the construction of 12,500 classrooms that could have been done in `892 crore. "An RTI has revealed that additional `2,000 crore was given for constructions of rooms in schools that could've been constructed in only `892 crore. This is a scam in which the chief minister and the deputy CM are involved," Tiwari said.
Replying to Sisodia's allegation, Tiwari said, "I am not an agency that I will arrest him. The law will take its own course," he said. Sisodia also posted a video presentation on infrastructure at Delhi government schools and challenged Tiwari to name 10 such schools in BJP-ruled states which could match them. The fresh trading of barbs came a day after Sisodia challenged BJP working president JP Nadda and BJP Rajya Sabha member Vijay Goel to compare top government schools of BJP-ruled states those run by the Arvind Kejriwal government in the Capital. He also said that the expenditure on the construction of classrooms cannot be calculated as Tiwari has done.
The challenge came in response to Nadda's statement terming the AAP government in Delhi a "laughing stock". "There is only one school to open the expose of your education model. Let us both go to a school in Mustafabad," Goel said on Monday. BJP MP from West Delhi, Parvesh Verma also said that the BJP will complain about this matter in the Lokpal, demanding the investigation of its design and expenditure.
Meanwhile, former NDMC chairman Umesh Sehgal has asked Sisodia to draw a comparison between the Delhi government-run schools and the schools run by the New Delhi Municipal Council, which comes under the Centre. Sehgal, who was also Delhi chief secretary, said in a letter, "I read with interest your challenge to compare the best 10 government schools with the best in any of the other states. Please note that for comparison purposes you do not have to go anywhere else, please compare your schools with those run by the NDMC! This will not just be a boast but may prove a wake-up call for you to improve your own schools."