What took Arvind Kejriwal from IIT to IAS to RTI activism to the office of the Delhi chief minister? The popular narrative is anger — the beating heart of any people’s movement. Sacked from the Cabinet and stripped off the water and tourism portfolios, it is anger that prompted Kapil Mishra to accuse Kejriwal of accepting Rs 2 crore from AAP minister Satyendar Jain.
The 36-year-old politician is the son of Annapurna Mishra, the first Mayor of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. She was the first to occupy the office of mayor after the creation of three new local bodies in New Delhi and represents the Sonia Vihar neighbourhood in East Delhi as a member of the BJP.
Voices within AAP say that Mishra was upset with Kejriwal when the law portfolio was snatched away from him and handed over to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in 2015. AAP volunteers, who wish to remain anonymous, alleged that it was Mishra who was incompetent and was filing cases arbitrarily. And, instead of accepting the chief minister's decision responsibly, had a bitter argument with him. The volunteers claimed that this streak of arrogance stems from the fact that Mishra was given a ticket in the first go and that his lack of connect with people in his constituency is a known fact but the top leadership has tolerated him because there is a dearth of good orators in the party. They rubbished Mishra's claim that he has been associated with the AAP movement since the Anna Andolan and call him a fair-weather friend.
To verify the claims made by AAP volunteers about Mishra’s competence, Firstpost went to his constituency Karawal Nagar in north-east Delhi on 7 May. Here, we ran into members from a people’s movement called Karawal Nagar Parivahan Sangharsh Samiti (KNPSS) that had held black flags during Mishra's campaign rallies for the recently-held MCD election.
Formed in July 2016, a few members of the 200-strong group told Firstpost that they were angry and frustrated with Mishra. Among them was the founder, Tejpal Rawat, who said that social-media savvy Mishra has blocked him on Twitter. “He was given a ticket too soon. He has not worked with his people. He is more of a media face,” he said while pointing to the deep cut on his nose alleging that Mishra’s goons beat him up when he was protesting during the recent civic polls. He asked why there isn’t any office of a district in-charge in this constituency, the closest one is situated in the neighbouring constituency of Bhajanpura.
The KNPSS is not registered. It calls itself a small citizens’ movement that will dissolve once the issues are resolved. “We don’t want to politicise the civic issues, we just want somebody to address them,” said Tejpal. The KNPSS helpline number (75511 98887) has received over 1,000 calls till now. “This just shows the lack of forums in our area where people can express their grievances,” he said. In response to an RTI filed by Rawat on the total funds allocated to the Karawal Nagar MLA Constituency during 1 April, 2015 to 31 March, 2016, the Delhi Urban Development Agency replied on 5 May, 2016: The total amount of MLA LAD allotted was Rs 223.35 lakhs and to Mohalla Sabha was Rs 20 crore; the total amount sanctioned was Rs 17,88,98,792.
The locals also spoke of incidents of helpless people angrily charging into Mishra’s office because he has remained unavailable to address their demands for months on end. Six months ago, about 60 women from Sonia Vihar ward took out their slippers to beat up the minister who has worked with international organisations like Greenpeace and Amnesty International.
A bunch of irritated people who stood in a huddle next to a long grey drain, flowing right in front of a school (Titiksha Modern Public School) also pointed to garbage piles and to the swarms of mosquitoes flying over them. Some men pointed to an iron gate and said that was the only thing Mishra had built in their area. The gate was pointless because there was no space for passage on either side.
Nikhil Tomar, a resident of Mukund Vihar, which too falls in Mishra’s constituency, informed that there have been instances where blackish-brown water has flown from the taps of his home. He added that the residents of Karawal Nagar have shared pictures of supposedly potable, insect-infested water on social media and nothing has been done to repair the problem.
The KNPSS is a people’s movement that has been vying for Mishra’s attention since one year, primarily to improve the connectivity situation in the region. They have a 10-point plan that includes a demand for a foot-over bridge and bus stands on the much-congested Khajuri flyover; 15 more buses dedicated to the Karawal Nagar Vidhan Sabha; the restarting of the metro feeder bus service and its extension up to the busy Kashmiri Gate metro station. The metro is a popular mode of transport but the last mile connectivity is still poor. The KNPSS demands buses from Karawal Nagar to Anand Vihar, which is an interstate bus terminal and a railway station. They have also been asking for a ladies special bus for women who travel great distances for work and education.
There are only nine buses that cater to more than 10 lakh residents in Karawal Nagar. When the topic of transport was started, Dharminder, 22, came forward and revealed that he lost his father to a heart attack because of traffic congestion on poorly engineered roads. This people’s movement in Karawal Nagar, thanks Kejriwal for sacking Mishra.
Updated Date: May 09, 2017 19:59 PM