Three years of Arvind Kejriwal: Delhi CM's claims belied by polluted capital, crumbling infrastructure

“Teen saal me hua kamal”, said the catchphrase in advertisements to mark completion of three years of the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi. It did not go into the specifics of what “wonders” the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) achieved but simply added: “If the government is honest, everything is possible”.

 Three years of Arvind Kejriwal: Delhi CMs claims belied by polluted capital, crumbling infrastructure

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

The ad published in newspapers raises two broad questions: First, what wonders does Kejriwal think improved quality of life of ordinary citizens in Delhi? Has Delhi become a better place to live and work than what it was three years ago? Second, has Kejriwal and his government been honest? Have they been honest to people of the capital city? Have they been honest with themselves, their peers and fellow travellers from the days of the Anna Movement?

Before discussing the merits of the advertisement, it should be noted that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will have the distinction of completing three years in office on 14 February, 2018, when the nation celebrates Mahashivrati and Valentine's Day. Kejriwal has also announced that at noon on Wednesday, he and his colleagues will respond to queries from the people, which will be an interesting event.

But before that, he has another problem to deal with. His state information department has not cleared a TV ad clearly inspired by a famous line from author Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist: "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it". Back home, a paraphrased version of this famous quote was popularised by Shah Rukh Khan in the movie Om Shanti Om: “Kitni shiddat se tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai... Ki har zarre ne mujhe tumse milane ki saazish ki hai... Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko agar dil se chaho to saari kayanath tumhe usse milane ki koshish me lag jati hai”.

The copy writers of Kejriwal’s advertisement were so fascinated by this that they picked up this quote, paraphrased it to make it even more fascinating and appealing: “Jab aap sacchai aur imaandari ke raaste par chalte hain, toh iss brahmaand ki drishya aur adrishya saari shaktiyan aapki madat karti hain (When you walk on the path of truth and honesty, seen and unseen forces of the universe will assist you).”

However, thanks to Supreme Court guidelines, which say all the facts in official advertisements should be checked and cleared by the departments concerned, no government department could verify help of “seen and unseen forces”. Kejriwal’s inability to get his own information department to approve an advertisement certainly isn't good publicity at a time when he's gearing up to celebrate three years at the helm. Kejriwal's advertisements may not be running on television, but he's on the radio: In one advert, he advises students to aspire to become good human beings and says that when anyone asks them what would they like to become, that's the answer they ought to give rather than saying they want to become a doctor or a lawyer.

Whether one aspires and consciously strives to become a good human being or if it is the values that one internalises which makes one a good human being remains an open question. Would Kejriwal like to be known as a good human being or a good administrator, a good strategist and a good organiser? One isn't sure. Ask any of his erstwhile colleagues who'd been associated with him since India Against Corruption or the days of founding the AAP (who were either forced out by prevailing circumstances or thrown out of the party), and they wouldn't have good things to say about Kejriwal either as a human being or a good administrator of an honest government.

A highly-polluted Delhi with crumbling infrastructure is not a kamal ka kaam. The Kejriwal government had been claiming that it had worked wonders in education in government schools, but the result of this year’s Class 10 pre-board exam results had a pass percentage of only 31 percent, an improvement from a 21.5 pass percentage in mid-term examinations. Another area where Kejriwal government claimed to have done good work is health. Mohalla clinics have, no doubt, been a welcome step but the health department is headed by the controversial Satyendar Jain who also faces several corruption charges.

The problem is Kejriwal wasted the better part of last three years in office pitching himself as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For him, Delhi was too much of half-state to hunker down and focus us on governance. He should revisit his speech delivered at a packed Ramlila Maidan on 14 February, 2015, when he took the oath of office. And ponder if he's been honest with himself and led an honest government.

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2018 07:05:57 IST