Kejriwal Promised Much but Delivered Little
By Express news service - NEW DELHI
Published: 02nd Feb 2014 07:23:53 AM
Populism is the platform of promise for change. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won on a manifesto that promised to radically change the lives of Delhi’s dispossessed and disadvantaged as well as fulfil the aspirations of a corruption-weary middle class.
The newest hurdle the chief minister has hit is the politics of power. The over one-and-a-half crore residents of the capital are getting ready to pay eight per cent more on their electricity bills after voting a government to power which promised to halve tariffs.
The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has announced a hike in ‘surcharge’ levied on electricity from February 1 for three months till further orders. Kejriwal condemned the DERC decision, saying it was uncalled for, since an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General into the accounts of private distribution companies is already under progress. He said the power distribution companies were fudging accounts and deliberately showing losses and engaging in “blackmail”. Leader of Opposition Harsh Vardhan, however, said the failure to curb power costs just exposed Kejriwal’s false promises.
Unable to bring down tariffs, the government announced a subsidy to people who consume up to 400 units. For this measure too, an appropriation bill has to be passed in the Assembly, which has still not been done. “The officers who are signatories to this order would be behind bars,” said former Delhi finance minister Jagdish Mukhi.
In the one month that AAP has been in power, the state government has managed to fulfil only one promise fully—reversing the Sheila Dikshit government’s decision to permit FDI in multi-brand retail. AAP has initiated reforms on five points that figured in the 18-point agenda drawn up before the government came to power.
Water: While AAP claims credit for initiating 666 litres of free water supply per day in the national capital, Mukhi claimed only a miniscule number of people residing in Delhi would be able to derive benefit of this scheme. “One third of Delhi does not have pipelines so they are not covered under this scheme. Among those who have piped water supply, there are thousands of colonies which don’t have meters, so they won’t be covered either. Housing societies in Delhi have bulk meters, so they would not be able to derive benefit, and MIG and HIG consumers use more water so they too won’t benefit. Among the remaining consumes who have meters, 60 per cent of meters are not functional,” he said.
Ending VIP culture: Opposition parties alleged that crores were spent on the chief minister’s oath taking ceremony at Ramlila Maidan, which required all the paraphernalia and thousands of security guards, whereas, only a few lakhs would have been spent if the ceremony took place at Raj Bhavan. The chief minister himself and his cabinet colleagues do not use red beacons on their cars. Mukhi claimed Kejriwal’s insistence on not taking security was resulting in six-fold increase in expenditure as plainclothes personnel provide him round-the-clock cover. None of AAP’s ministers have accepted bungalows.
Jan Lokpal Bill: Kejriwal promised he would get it passed in 15 days but more than a month later, the bill remains stuck.
Mohalla sabhas: The Janta Durbar fiasco forced a hasty retreat and plans to meet the public abandoned. Mukhi said for introducing a Swaraj bill, which envisages that local residents and RWAs decide what works are to be taken in their locality, the state government has to first take permission from the Union Home Ministry. “First let the cabinet adopt the bill and send it to home ministry and let it come to the House. But one should understand, there are many RWAs in one colony, who will get these deciding powers?” he asked.
Full statehood to Delhi: Kejriwal wanted the police and Delhi Development Authority to be under the government. But his protest on police transfers earned very little goodwill or support.
Regularisation of colonies: Government yet to come out with a precise plan.
Rehabilitation of slum-dwellers: Here too, no word from the government.
Regular jobs for contract labourers: Not much headway made though sincere efforts are said to be being made. AAP has formed committees to look into the promise and setting up a women protection security force.
Infrastructure for ordinary traders: At the time of going to press, the Delhi government announced scrapping of the cumbersome Audit Report 1 (AR1), which a communication said was a lengthy and unproductive report running into multiple pages and was mandatory for traders with an annual turnover exceeding Rs 10 crore.
Commenting on the list of AAP’s 18 promises, Mukhi said AAP’s plans of opening 500 schools in Delhi cannot happen in this government’s tenure. On the issues of regularisation of colonies, Mukhi said the Congress government could not do it in the past 15 years. “This issue is hanging fire for the past 34 years, due to some legal issues. Even today, no flat can be registered in these colonies, neither can one avail loan,” Mukhi said.
AAP is yet to deliver on setting up more courts, or appointing subsidy to farmers, or opening new government hospitals, all mentioned in its 18-point agenda.