Queen Marie Antoinette of France was a very colourful woman. But her citizens regarded her as cruel. During a period of famine, when she was told people were dying of hunger because they could not afford bread, she is reported to have said: “Let them eat cake instead!”
Our very own Queen of Delhi seems to have made a statement on Sunday, bordering on Antoinette’s style.
Sheila Dikshit is reported to have said something like this on Sunday: If they (citizens of Delhi) cannot afford the high electricity tariff, then they should cut the use of the power.
The Congress party’s chief minister in Delhi, who is under attack for the hike in power tariff, also sought to justify it, saying the increase in cost of power production has led to the rise in electricity rates.
Dikshit said that the consumers will have to pay if they want round-the-clock electricity supply, but went on to say that if people are finding it difficult to pay the billed amount they they should cut down consumption on various electrical appliances.
“We have been supplying power round-the-clock. We are not supplying power periodically. When 24 hours supply is ensured then the Opposition says bill is too high. If you consume electricity for 24 hours, then you do not pay for five hours’ consumption.
“If somebody is finding it difficult to pay the bill then he can use a fan instead of a cooler. One can always cut down consumption of power to limit the bill,” she added.
Dikshit was immediately targeted by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvid Kejriwal: “This is very unfortunate statement from the Chief Minister of Delhi. In Delhi, the electricity prices are not increasing because of increased production cost.”
“How can you expect the people to stop using TV, refrigerator, washing machines which have become essential today. The electricity prices are increasing only because of the corruption of the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in collusion with electricity companies,” Kejriwal added.
The main opposition in the Delhi assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also did not spare her, accusing Dikshit’s government of siding with private power distribution companies (discoms) instead of the citizens of the city-state.
“She (Dikshit) is favouring discoms. There is mass corruption in electricity by the discoms but Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, instead of checking it, is giving statement about electricity being used by poor people,” Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel said.
The Twitterati also vented their anger at Sheila Dikshit: feluda @feluda tweeted: “Sharad Pawar said – Don’t eat sugar if you can’t afford. Sheila Dixit says – Don’t use electricity if you can’t afford.”
An apparent BJP supporter going by the handle Modi4PM @SwaruprPhD tweeted: “Cut power use if you can’t afford high bill: Congress CM Sheila. Will Sonia ask people to starve, if they can’t afford high food inflation?”
Journalist, public affairs consultant and ex-actor Sudhir Singh tweeted: “Sheila auntie says if you can’t afford power, don’t use it. Next she could say if you can’t afford rise in food prices, don’t eat ”
An investment analyst/banker Narayanan said: “Mademoiselle Sheila Dixit will soon say if your water bills go up then don’t have bath, So that you will have Minimum Water bills.”
When the French revolution finally came, Marie Antoinette was sent to the guillotine by the angry French people. Fortunately, for Dikshit, no such fate awaits. The only guillotine she faces is the ballot box, for it will spell the end of her political career.