By Ashish Mishra
The AAP begins its second year in office in Dehi Sunday, earning, surprisingly, more bouquets than brickbats despite a tumultuous period when it was at war both within and with others.
When income tax commissioner-turned-activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal took power on Valentine’s Day last year, there was more of an air of uncertainty coupled with lots of expectations.
While there are plenty of critics, Kejriwal finishes his first year in office seemingly with more admirers, primarily due to the odd-even traffic scheme he unleashed from January 1-15 and will repeat from April 15-30. While it is not clear if the aim was met, the curbs brought great order to Delhi’s otherwise perennially choked roads, making driving a pleasant experience.
“On substantive issues it has been a government with good governce,” Pradeep Kumar Dutta, a professor of political science in Delhi University, told IANS.
Kejriwal, undoubtedly the heart and lungs of the Aam Aadmi Party, feels that his government’s major achievements were slashing electricity tariff and providing free water up to a limit, benefitting millions. Both were major election pledges.
“Our government deserves accolades for fulfilling its promises despite the central government’s constant efforts to derail our good governce agenda,” AAP leader Dilip Pandey told IANS.
“We fulfilled our key promise to provide cheap electricity and free water. For the first time in 22 years, electricity rates were not hiked.”
Saying corruption had fallen in Delhi, he said: “We removed our own minister (Asim Ahmed Khan) when we found he was involved in corruption.”
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told IANS that the AAP government’s focus on revamping the educatiol and health sectors in the capital which he claimed had derailed over the years were solid achievements.
Alyst Jha admitted that the AAP had “started clean politics as the level of individual corruption is very low in this government. But concrete development is yet to be witnessed”.
With Delhi Police not reporting to the Delhi government but to Lt. Governor jeeb Jung, the central government’s representative, the Kejriwal-Modi row has often taken ugly turns. Six AAP legislators — or 10 percent of the 67 members it has in the 70-member Delhi assembly — have been arrested on various charges and let off on bail. Each arrest has ignited more ugly spats. Lt. Governor Jung has often spiked schemes and transfer of officials announced by Kejriwal, making it clear that it was he - and not Kejriwal - who was the real boss in Delhi.
Alyst Dutta warned that the Delhi government’s frequent fights with the Modi government was affecting development.
On Thursday, AAP ministers unveiled a whole lot of plans they have for Delhi including a two-level elevated East-West road corridor, a medical insurance scheme for people in Delhi, 1,000 Mohalla Clinics as well as several Polyclinics, and hundreds of classrooms in government schools.
(Ashish Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)