Delhi, aside from being the capital of India, has of late also managed to transform itself into the capital of intertwined, thought provoking politics. In view of the upcoming 2019 Parliamentary Elections, lets attempt an assessment of sorts of the Kejriwal Reign and what it has translated into for the masses of Delhi.
Ray Of Hope: Let’s go back to where it all started: When AAP came into existence as a political party back in November 2012, Delhiites and most Indians sensed the arrival of a penetrating ray of hope. Finally, the people were face to face with an educated politician, who spoke their speech and promised their most earnest desires – against corruption, against nepotism, pro-egalitarianism and what not. One gentleman I had a chance to speak with said that his wife’s voter ID card was from Delhi and the first time Kejriwal and AAP stood for elections, she travelled especially from Meerut to Delhi to vote for him! Not just this gentleman and his wife, countless others have something similar to say.
Expectations Foiled: Once Kejriwal and his army had managed to grip the nation and its sentiments firmly, then came the theatrics. The first act of the widely mapped out drama was when Kejriwal declared that AAP would not be joining hands with any other political parties. While this move may seem like a bold and self-assured move, we all know that he was basically pulling the rug under his own feet but his supporters didn’t lose ground. Anyway, in AAP’s debut in the 2013 Delhi Legislative Assembly election, AAP formed a minority government with conditional support from the Indian National Congress.
Time for the second theatrical act: Once Kejriwal realised that the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill (an anti-corruption bill) would not be supported by other parties, Kejriwal resigned like a petulant child in rebellion after being in power as the Chief Minister for a mere 49 days. Surely, from the ‘supreme leader’, the masses expected a stronger, more determined approach.
If you’re thinking that AAP has given us enough drama, know that they’ve only just begun. Nepotism in AAP starts to kick in, some minister’s daughter gets a prominent position in government, some woman who had worked very hard for AAP’s movement becomes head of DCW and another guy from AAP becomes the head of some department and the regular Indian politics features. What’s more, AAP had taken in all the rejects from other political parties.
CM Again: Despite all the theatrics, people kept their eyes fixated on Kejriwal, who, to them, was till the honest, no nonsense politician he promised he was and consequently, we saw him fill the chair of the National Capital’s Chief Minister in February 2015. This victory however, as 39% Delhiites agree, was soured by the all-dominating presence of the BJP at the Centre. There must have been countless productive ideas running through Kejriwal’s mind, but with the BJP standing as the post guard, their execution must’ve been something of a task and politicians have cleverly made it look like a war between Modi and Kejriwal. But is it really?
After the last defeat to AAP, BJP has been on a winning spree and AAP has been losing elections ever since. On introspecting, we see the preference for AAP falling, for they made us believe that if someone has to do good work, it has to be done outside politics.
Delivery: By sticking to certain promised measures such as cheap power and free water (up-to 20 kiloliters a month) and implementing the odd-even car rationing plan, the AAP has shown that it does not necessarily lack political will but often gets busier in politics than implementation. The government has shown a lack of planning and application in checking pollution and strengthening the public transport system. It struggled to add a single bus to the DTC fleet and drew sharp criticism for knee-jerk proposals such as cloud seeding and water dispersal through helicopters. Other ideas, such as setting up its own power plant and giving people the choice of their power supplier, were junked since they were not doable.
The screenplay aside, AAP has definitely managed to win the commoners’ hearts with their fantastic Mohalla Clinic Health Scheme and focus on investment in education. On the other side of the spectrum, even risking public anger, the government went ahead with the odd-even scheme, which experts however, described as unnecessary. Even now, Kejriwal has gone on record promising to add a fleet of 10,000 buses to DTC. But what piques us is that a similar promise was earlier made, and never kept.
Even as the Mohalla Clinic Scheme was praised by the likes of Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the United Nations), the government’s plan was to set up about 1,000 clinics in Delhi (one in every 5 km radius) but only 160 are operational now. Besides, under the e-governance concept, even though e-district services have started, applicants are still required to visit the office for verification. Moreover, despite services being available online, most people still visit the SDM’s office due to lack of awareness. But the government hope that its doorstep delivery of 40 services will improve the situation.
The Future: Judging what the future holds for the Aam Aadmi Party in the Lok Sabha elections is nothing short of a gamble. Even till date, a significant portion of the Delhi commoners think that Kejriwal is the Messiah sent down to end corruption. On the other hand are people who have seen Kejriwal deliver some of his promises, while the unfulfilled ones remain mixed with dust as the fulfiller preoccupies himself with accusing other political groups of crimes that he himself is falling into. He may or may not make it, depending on how he fares in the remaining little but game-changing tenure of his governance. Even then, the sky is still looking a little grey for AAP’s 2019 performance.
The author is feature editor of The Legitimate
This Story Earlier Published in Print Edition of ‘ The Legitimate’