It’s been two years since Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) government came to power in Delhi. Now, as it steps up its election campaign for the upcoming polls to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the electorate is wondering what to make of the fresh promises being made by AAP considering that most of those made before the Assembly election in 2015 are yet to be fulfilled. The latest dazzling promise made by the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in Uttam Nagar in New Delhi is to turn the capital into London if AAP is voted to power in the municipal elections with an absolute majority.
This promise has all the makings of a good headline, something Kejriwal's statements are always good at doing; the fulfilment of those promises is another story.
Reacting to Kejriwal’s statement at a public rally, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin tweeted:
Mamata wanted 2 turn Kolkata into London.Kejriji now wants to make Delhi look like London.Impossible task!Why not make cities just liveable?
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) March 6, 2017
The Delhi chief minister has reasons to have this kind of super confidence while making promises in public, simply because he has been successful in convincing Delhi voters with his gift of gab. And they in turn have made him the chief minister of the National Capital twice.
But has he or his AAP government succeeded in fulfiling the promises made to Delhiites ahead of the Assembly elections of 2013 and 2015? In the second term, AAP won 67 out of 70 seats with an absolute majority.
"In its election manifesto, AAP had promised to regularise the unauthorised colonies in Delhi in a year and hand the ownership rights over to the occupants. But, nothing happened even after two years in government. The civic amenities in these areas are the worst and it is unbelievable that such colonies exist in the National Capital. If the chief minister had fulfilled this very promise, it would have been a commendable achievement for his government," said Anupam, national spokesperson, Swaraj India.
The Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India — a new political party that emerged out of the socio-political movement Swaraj Abhiyan, a splinter group of AAP — in its vision document for the Delhi municipal polls released on 5 March, has come up with a comprehensive plan on how to make Delhi a garbage-free, epidemic-free, congestion-free city with sustainable solid waste management, focussing on unauthorised and JJ (Jhuggi Jhopdi) colonies and slums.
"What about the other promises made by the AAP like providing free WiFi to citizens, last mile connectivity, providing women’s safety on buses by deploying marshals, opening of schools, etc? Nothing has been done; rather the voters have been fooled. Kejriwal was known for his ‘dramebaazi’ (theatrics) but now he wants to leave BJP behind in ‘jumlebaazi’ (rhetoric) too. AAP has only been into lip-service. Instead of working on the areas of public education, health and transportation, the Delhi government gave 399 licences for liquor vendors in 371 working days. Now, Kejriwal wants to make Delhi look like London. The people of Delhi have understood the game plan of AAP and won’t get fooled," added Anupam.
In the last two years, Delhiites witnessed a tug-of-war between Kejriwal and then Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, and development took a back seat. The chief minister always alleged that the Centre or the Narendra Modi government threw spanners in his work. Who knows the situation won’t repeat once AAP wins the MCD polls with a majority, because, the Centre will continue to have the Modi government for more than two years and might cause roadblocks — perceived or real — for Kejriwal.
"Delhi voters have understood the intentions of AAP and won't get caught in its trap of false promises. There are serious corruption charges against an AAP minister and MLAs. It was only in the past two years that the MCD got into disputes with Delhi government and so many strikes took place. Kejriwal diverted the money meant for salaries of MCD sanitation workers (safai-karmis) into other accounts. Even after getting a historic mandate, his government failed to fulfil any of its promises made ahead of the election. What about free WiFi, installation of CCTV cameras for safety, improving public transportation, opening of 500-bed hospital and several others?" asked Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana.
Even the most loyal voter base of the AAP — the Delhi autowallahs, who virtually made the party win in Delhi, have serious complaints against the party. They too feel that the noble intentions of AAP have got lost somewhere in the labyrinths of power. The Aam Aadmi Party that drew its inspiration and name from the common man, has ultimately forgotten its core voters comprising that very common man.
"It's us, the Delhi autowallahs, who campaigned free of cost for Kejriwal and AAP in 2013 and 2014. The party won with a huge mandate due to strong support from us. But, two years have passed, and AAP government hasn’t fulfilled the promises it made to us prior to elections. The condition of Delhi’s unrecognised colonies and JJ settlements continue to be in shambles. Often, we have to buy water from tankers, whereas the Delhi government promised free water. No auto stand, as promised to us has been built," said Avadesh, an autorickshaw driver from Sangam Vihar in south Delhi, who’s from a migrant community.
The disillusioned autorickshaw drivers will think twice before casting their votes during the MCD election.
Kejriwal’s promise of making Delhi look like London in one year leads many to question why these chief ministers are fascinated by foreign cities, instead of focussing on keeping the indigenous character of Delhi — that has a rich historical background? Why London or Paris?
During the Congress regime, then chief minister Sheila Dikshit too had said that she would make Delhi look like Paris.
"Political leaders, who don’t have any plan, programme and vision for development, with no timeline and deadline, make such absurd and meaningless statements. Kejriwal is now resorting to such jumlebaazi," Anupam added.
Kejriwal may consider London a benchmark for fine metropolitan living, but is he aware of the problems the capital of the United Kingdom has been grappling with — from air pollution, traffic congestion to excessively high cost of living among several others?
Khurana added, "Why can’t it be the other way around — that London one day aspires to look like Delhi? Is Kejriwal aware of the problems and the cost of living in London? He seems to have derived inspiration from his predecessor Dikshit, who wanted to make Delhi look like Paris. Instead of doing anything better, she lost despite being chief minister for three terms. BJP has the vision to make Delhi a much better place to live by proving better education facilities, public transportation, civic amenities, etc if it comes to power."
Published Date: Mar 07, 2017 08:02 am | Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 08:04 am