Kejriwal’s Free Power Promise in Punjab to Electrify Poll Battle as Akali Dal, Congress Face Public’s Ire

Arvind Kejriwal’s promise of free power in Punjab on Tuesday on the lines of Delhi addresses a troubling poll issue in the northern state where consumers have been paying high electricity bills and are upset on this count before elections, both with the former Akali Dal-BJP regime as well as the Congress government.

Kejriwal, in his second visit to the state in a week, seems to be ticking off the to-do election list for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that could be major factors in Punjab come 2022. Last week, he promised a Jat Sikh CM face of AAP, which he did not project in the 2017 elections. Now, Kejriwal is set to promise cheap power in Punjab like Delhi and also resolve to scrap and renegotiate the lopsided power purchase agreements with private companies which run power plants in Punjab.

पंजाब एक नई सुबह के लिए तैयार हो रहा है और मैं पंजाब पहुंचने के लिए…मिलते हैं बस कुछ घंटे बाद…— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 29, 2021

AAP will make a case that people will suffer for two decades if these agreements are not reworked. They were entered into by the erstwhile SAD-BJP government that led to power becoming costly in Punjab as the state is heavily dependent on these private companies for power generation. Captain Amarinder Singh rode to power in 2017 promising to scrap these power purchase agreements and re-negotiate them. However, nothing has moved so far in last four-and-a-half years.

The same is said to have been flagged to the CM by the Congress committee set up by the high command to resolve differences in the state party unit, and the CM was urged to take immediate action on the same, sources told News18. The CM is said to have pointed that electricity tariff was reduced in the state this May (applicable up to March, 2022) till up to Rs 1 per unit for the small consumers, with an obvious eye on the 2022 elections and to give some relief to the public.

Like, for consumers with load up to 2 kilowatt (kw) and consumption up to 100 units, the rate was reduced by Rs 1 while for consumption between 101 to 300 units, the rate was slashed by 50 paisa. Consumers with load between 2kw-7kw got a reduction of 75 paise and 50 paise in the same manner in Punjab from June.

Kejriwal’s promise for Punjab may be on the lines of Delhi where power is free for the first 200 units while those consuming between 200 and 400 units get 50 per cent subsidy on their bill. This resulted in almost Rs 650 saving in their bill for people who consume less than 200 units of power in Delhi. Kejriwal has claimed that 74% people in Delhi pay zero bill and he will bring the same to Punjab soon.

“The most expensive electricity is provided in Punjab despite the state being an electricity-producer. CM Amarinder Singh did not deliver on his promise to scrap the power purchase agreements but instead has increased tariff over the years. People’s monthly household budget has been burdened with heavy electricity bills of Rs 10000-Rs 15000. Arvind Kejriwal will lay out the complete plan of reducing electricity tariff in Punjab,” AAP leader in Punjab assembly Harpal Cheema said.

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