Taking a potshot at the Arvind Kejriwal government, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that the proposed Aam Aadmi canteen by the Kejriwal government is nothing but another name for the existing Jan Aahar stalls implemented a decade ago here by the previous Congress government under her.
Dikshit also accused Kejriwal of “manipulating words”. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, she said: “Kejriwal is talking of the same scheme we had launched about 10 years ago. It is nothing new. Kejriwal is just renaming the existing schemes to suit his politics and his political party.”
“He (Kejriwal) has not done this for the first time. Our Jan Bhagidari scheme was renamed by him as Mohalla Sabhas. We had started this way back in 2003, but now he is marketing it as his own scheme. He knows no governance, but only the politics of confrontation,” Dikshit added.
Officials of the Aam Aadmi Party refused to answer this paper’s queries on the proposed Aam Aadmi canteens. Repeated calls and emails to Asish Khetan, vice chairperson of the Delhi Dialogue Commission, also went unanswered.
The Congress government in Delhi under Dikshit had launched the Jan Aahar scheme, and stalls under the scheme are being run by several NGOs and a few women’s organisations across the national capital. The scheme entails providing three meals — breakfast, lunch dinner — a day at a nominal price of Rs 18 per meal at all Jan Aahar stalls. In contrast, the proposed Aam Aadmi canteens would provide three meals at Rs 10 per meal.
G.A. Pereira of the Jaygee Humanitarian Society runs a Jan Aahar stall opposite the Green Park Metro station in south Delhi and receives around 150 customers daily. Pereira said that the fate of the Jan Aahar stalls is uncertain as he is wary that Kejriwal could ask for shutting these stalls to make the Aam Aadmi canteens a “success”.
Pereira told The Sunday Guardian, “We have been running this stall since 2012, and we get customers from all sections of society. We also ensure hygiene and cleanliness in and around the stall. But if Kejriwal plans to open Aam Aadmi canteens, he should consider the old players in the market as we have been in this field for a long time.”
The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) has also opposed Kejriwal’s proposal for subsidising food in the Aam Aadmi canteen, as the Association believes it would affect the business of the street food vendors who cater to the lower income group.
The Aam Aadmi canteens are likely to be opened by the end of this year and would be on the lines of the Amma canteen in Tamil Nadu. The proposed Aam Aadmi canteens would be opened at places like hospitals, bus stops, market places, slums and industrial areas.
Sources within the Delhi Government have also said that the government is thinking of shutting down the existing Jan Aahar stalls as the Aam Aadmi canteens would serve the purpose.