AAP, BJP trade barbs over Covid management, schools in UP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were locked in a tussle on Wednesday over Covid-19 management and school education with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal hitting out at his Uttar Pradesh counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, over the quality of testing in India’s most populous state.

The war-of-words came a day after Kejriwal announced that AAP will contest the 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, prompting criticism from UP’s basic education minister Satish Dwivedi over the state of government schools. On Wednesday, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia sought an open debate on education with top UP political leaders.

“It seems like the good governance of the AAP in Delhi haunts Yogi Adityanath. The great work we have done on covid-19 management in Delhi is now being discussed by people across Uttar Pradesh. Unlike you, we did not have to resort to fake Covid-19 tests,” Kejriwal tweeted, sharing a news report alleging irregularities in Covid-19 testing in Uttar Pradesh.

“Anyway, Manish (Sisodia) has accepted the invitation by your minister and he shall be in Lucknow on December 22 for a debate,” Kejriwal added.

To be sure, Uttar Pradesh has conducted XXXX tests, but much of this, roughly XXXX, is by the less-accurate rapid antigen testing method. Delhi has conducted XXXX tests, of which XXXX are by the more accurate Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction method, considered the gold standard of Covid-19 testing, and XXX are rapid antigen tests.

The UP government hit back.

“As far as the fight against Covid-19 in Delhi is concerned, why did the central government have to intervene? Because they (AAP government) had failed… Mr Kejriwal is day dreaming,” said state minister Sidharth Nath Singh, referring to a raft of measures announced by the Centre in June and November to ramp up testing and curb the surge in infections in the Capital.

Sisodia and Dwivedi publicly argued about the quality of education in the two states.

On Tuesday, Dwivedi had invited Kejriwal and Sisodia for a visit to Uttar Pradesh and take a tour of government schools. In his UP polls announcement, Kejriwal had highlighted the conditions of healthcare facilities, schools, governance and law and order in Uttar Pradesh.

In response, Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s education minister, said on Wednesday that he was ready for a public debate.

“BJP leaders asked for a debate on school models. They challenged me for a visit and also an open debate. I accept both the challenges. Next Tuesday (Dec 22), I will be in Lucknow. Please let me know where to come for the debate and who to argue with – the chief minister, deputy CM or education minister of UP. Let’s have an open debate on government schools in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh… I have one request, please do not back down now,” he said, in a video briefing.

The Delhi government is the first and the only one to spend 25% of its budget on schools… The plight of UP government schools is well-known widely… I urge Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to improve the condition of schools in Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

But Dwivedi dismissed the suggestion and called it childish.

“I only reacted to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announcement that the party would contest the 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. And that there was no question of debating with him (Sisodia). I have several other commitments on that day and there’s no time to debate with him,” he added. “It is an attempt to gain some limelight.”

“We have 1.59 lakh government primary and upper primary schools across Uttar Pradesh where 1.8 crore students are enrolled. It is almost Delhi’s total population. Whereas Delhi has 1,024 government schools,” the minister added.

Singh also hit out at the AAP’s flagship mohalla, or neighbourhood, clinic initiative.

“Mr Kejriwal keeps talking about Mohalla clinics. The BJP’s tele-consultation scheme is a far better one…As far as schools are concerned, they should go to the villages (in UP) and see. The people will tell them about what has changed in the last few years.”

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