Ek Saal, Kejriwal: the honest politics marches on


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By Philip Mudartha
Bellevision Media Network

14 Feb 2016: On 14th February 2015, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stormed the Assembly election to win 67 seats and to form the government in Delhi-NCT state. On Sunday, the AAP government completes one year in office. Its anniversary celebrations include public Q&A session with the cabinet taking questions from the people, aptly labelled "phone pe charcha".

 

 

AAP is India’s hottest and successful political start-up with honesty as its hallmark


Three years before PM Narendra Modi began his “Start-up India” rhetoric, AAP spun out of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement which was then sweeping Delhi. Its birth coincided with the political weakening of the Indian National Congress Party. It was also at a time when the political star of Bharatiya Janata Party was rising and it seemed likely to BJP would win general elections due in 2014 and form the next federal government in New Delhi. 

 

 

 

However, Kejriwal and his supporters in the India against Corruption (IAC) saw that the idea of alternative politics had started taking root, especially among the urban, educated and young citizens. Formally inaugurated on 26h November 2012, the party managed to become a household name, a brand by itself with broom as its electoral symbol and as its name. Aam Aadmi Party struck instant emotional chord with ordinary people: the illiterate, poor and powerless.

 

The privileged classes snorted at it. The mainstream media controlled by corporate houses, ignored him when it became obvious that the fight was not only against Congress but corruption of all: the venal politicians and crony capitalists. The right-wing groups especially aligned with both BJP and its mentor RSS saw an imminent threat. They drew parallels of Kejriwal with Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian who inspired the Five Star Movement (5S) which was shaking the foundations of Italian politics at the time.

 

Like 5S in Italy during the 2013 national elections, AAP secured 29.5% of the vote in Delhi assembly elections also held in December 2013. It won 28 of 70 seats, insufficient to form a government but allowed itself to be trapped to form a short-lived minority government with external support from Congress, a party it opposed primarily for its chronic corruption.

 

 

Political pundits said that like Beppe Grillo in his country’s politics, Kejriwal is a disruptive force; he would not rise above Dharna politics and would never learn to govern. Intellectually inclined commentators called him a Luddite, after the 19th century destroyer of machines who was opposed to industrial revolution. More acidic critics called him either a Sancho Panza chasing windmills (of Don Quixote novel) or Mohammed Bin Tughluq ordering crazy governance ideas. In any case, Kejriwal evoked extreme emotions: passionate hero worship by his supporters and equally strong hatred of his detractors. There was nothing average and ordinary about him. As a result, he soon became the only crowd puller for AAP and its unchallenged supreme leader.

 

Like Narendra Modi for BJP. Both were men of charisma in each other’s parties.  But, unlike Modi, who captured control of an established party, Kejriwal founded a brand new party from scratch and succeeded against all odds to keep his control over it.

 

Establishment of a new political party, emergence as the ruling party in Delhi-NCT and recognised party in Punjab and making a bid to become national party were for sure the most incredible stories of Indian politics in its history.

 

Then there was Paanch Saal Fir se Kejriwal: What a return!


Kejriwal and AAP love February 14; not because, it is Valentine’s Day. It is the day when the first AAP government resigned in 2014 after being in office for only 49 days. Both BJP and Congress conspired together to disallow the tabling of Delhi Jan Lok Pal Bill-2014, a key promise of AAP which was also the demand of Ana Hazare anti-corruption movement. (It has to be remembered that the BJP supported the Jan Lok Pal in 2013 when IAC was primarily fighting Congress. In reality, IAC was a brainchild of a think-tank associated with Sangh Parivar, which is a story for another day). It is also the day when AAP government swore in for the second time with a record mandate. BJP, the ruling party at the centre, managed to win only 3 seats, despite it winning all Lok Sabha seats only nine months ago; while, Congress drew a blank. A historic record of 54.3% of the electorate had entrusted the responsibility of heralding clean, honest and corruption free politics to Kejriwal and AAP.

 

The heralding of a new concept of development


The development model espoused by the AAP government is unique in the country since it places the needs of the people at the core instead of the GDP growth rate. Naturally, education, healthcare and provision of public services are its priorities.

 

 

The commitment is visible in the budgetary provisions:


Let’s look at the sector-wise allocations in the maiden budget for FY 2015-16 presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia which embodied the AAP development model. The total expenditure: Rs 41,129 crore.


• The Plan Budget: Rs 19,000 crore (46%)
• The Non-Plan Budget: Rs 22,129 crore (54%)

 

Education (General Education, Technical Education, Art & Culture, Sports & Youth Services) received top-most priority as the government rightly viewed this as an investment in the future of its people. It received the largest allocation of Rs 4,570 of the Plan Outlay (24%), a whopping 106% increase over previous year’s expenditure. No state has doubled the allocation on education in a single year. The AAP government can take full credit for identifying education as the transformational sector.

 

Public Transport, Safety & Security, Pollution Challenges


The AAP government identified improvement in access to the public transport as its second priority. Transport took the 2nd largest share of Plan Outlay with Rs 3,695 crore (19.45%). Giving public transportation the highest priority, the government planned to introduce 1,380 semi-low floor and 500 mini buses under DTC, and 1,000 buses under the Cluster Scheme to be deployed by end of 2016.

 

It also announced the proposal to assign over 10,000 buses to the private sector under the PPP Cluster Scheme. In addition, 304 mini buses will be introduced this year on 64 Metro feeder routes in order to improve last mile connectivity.

 

An additional 5,500 new Auto permits were to be issued, but the licensing has been suspended because the Deputy CM was informed of bureaucratic mal-practice which could turn into a corruption scandal. The government has offered Rs 15,000 subsidy on e-Rickshaw purchases in order to promote their wider use.

 

Safety and security, especially of women commuters, has been a public concern in Delhi, which has over the years graduated from being the eve-teasing capital to the rape capital of the country.  The introduction of GPS tracking on all autos and taxis, CCTVs in all DTC and Cluster buses as well as stationing of a Marshal in charge of security in each bus are provisioned in order to make people feel more secure. The phone pe charcha on the anniversary day will bring out the performance record in this vital sector.

 

 

Meanwhile, the city earned a new fame, of being the most polluted capital in the world with particulate matter (PM) emissions of both size 10 micron (PM10) and more hazardous 2.5 micron (PM2.5) skyrocketing above most severe levels of 400 or more. The Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court admitted PILs and sought reports from both the Central and State Governments of remedial actions planned or taken by each of them.

 

The AAP government sprang into action ahead of suitable permanent solution could be designed. As a short term measure, the odd-even scheme of allowing private cars on roads on alternate days only for a fortnight in January 2016 was implemented. The period was because the city usually experiences severe winter smog then. The scheme attracted political fire from opposition and barbs from car owning class, but received wide approval from public at large not because the scheme significantly impacted reduction in PM2.5 but decongested the roads, cutting travel times by half and making driving a pleasure.

 

Medical and Public Healthcare Services


Beginning 1st February 2016, the AAP government began free issue of medicines at its hospitals, provided they are prescribed by its resident doctors. It said that the project cost savings made in the construction of three flyovers were used to fund the scheme. It said the savings were possible due to elimination of corruption in PWD sector and because the projects were completed ahead of schedule.

 

Free supply of medicines is a historic performance unheard of in any other state. It is an example of the government’s commitment to improving healthcare infrastructure and services, which was a major poll promise of AAP. The government had allocated Plan Outlay of Rs 3,138 crore (16.5%) to Medical and Public Healthcare Services which makes it the 3rd highest priority.

 

 

 

Health infrastructure will be greatly enhanced when the three new hospitals with a total bed capacity of 1800 will be completed. Eleven existing hospitals are being upgraded with plan to add 4000 new beds by end of 2016.

 

In an attempt to take medical services to the common man, the government has begun setting up 1000 ‘Mohalla Clinics’ during the year. The government has announced that each Mohalla Clinic cost only Rs 20 lakhs, against Rs. 4 crore estimated by officials because corruption in state government machinery has been curbed entirely. These clinics are supported by five centralized diagnostic labs located in different zones in Delhi, where certain essential tests have been offered free to the poor.

 

The supply of free water and subsidized electricity


The first AAP government had fulfilled these twin poll promises during its 49-day stint. It had also ordered a CAG audit of DISCOMS, which are private sector companies owned by powerful industry tycoons with close political connections to both Congress and BJP. During President’s rule, the LG as representative of central government had rescinded the orders. However, within days of returning to office, the AAP government cut the tariff by half and capped the subsidy to those domestic users consuming less than 400 units per month. 80% of Delhi households benefitted. The additional subsidy burden on the state treasury was estimated to be in the range of Rs 150-250 crore, with the total subsidy being Rs 1600 crore maximum. This is a number we can watch for in the next budget due in a fortnight. (In Navi Mumbai, the bill for 400 units is Rs 3,492 while in Delhi, thanks to AAP the bill is Rs 1300 or so. A saving of Rs 2,200 a month is a sure hit with the public, due to which AAP will retain its popularity come what the opposition says).

 

The government also made water free up to 20, 000 liters of water per household to whom piped and metered connections are available. Water supply is a municipal function in most cities and towns, but the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is in-charge which Kejriwal accused of massive corruption prior to his government came into office. Since coming to power, the rates for consumers using more than 20,000 have been hiked steeply, motivating residents to control consumption. The government has claimed that DJB has made profits while it was a loss-making entity earlier. These claims will also have to be verified through the budget numbers.

 

 

 

Besides, the MLAs and ministers are regularly supervising the laying of drinking water supply pipes in colonies and slums so that the entire state is covered with piped water supply before their term ends. They have been using the MLALAD funds in most cases to expedite the laying of sewerage drains and the construction of public toilets as well. Generally, this is an activity that the municipal corporators should be spearheading. But, in Delhi, the municipalities are controlled by BJP and the next elections are due in 2017. The AAP is well placed to win the municipal elections, which is why the existing corporators are nervous. They have managed to raise a stink by inciting the MCD sanitation workers to go on strike to protest at the non-payment of salaries for months.

 

Their strike has left garbage piling up. Moreover, the strikers and their political backers have been littering garbage on roads and highways. The AAP government is faced with the stink raised by the garbage crisis as it prepares to celebrate its first anniversary in office.
The AAP has always managed to turn challenges as opportunities. Let us see, in this case.

 

 

Comments on this Article
Raphael Mathias, Kuntalnagar Fri, February-19-2016, 8:11
A honest and better party ever seen in our country is AAP.. which is against corruption. So we hope same honesty and betterment from other parties... so that India may have 0% corruption. and also I want to see Kejriwal as next prime minister of our country...
Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Wed, February-17-2016, 11:25
Dear Philip, thanks for shedding light on promise and status. Other state govts and politicians all over India need to learn from AK.
Raghavendra Upadhyaya, Bengaluru Tue, February-16-2016, 5:30
Thanks for the wonderful analysis. AAP is the future of India and I am sure within 10 years AAP will form the government at Centre. Then we can see real development on ground rather than on paper
Dr. Arun Sequeira, Mangalore/AbuDhabi Tue, February-16-2016, 1:31
With lot of hardship, a Just AAP has come to power in Delhi.It is evident that every effort is made by all other parties and the media that AAP does not take foothold in any other state. There are plenty of Good and capable people in the country but hardly they will come forward. I request all the people who have the courage,knowledge and goodwill to come forward to make AAP a success by showing leadership and solidarity and to elect at least 50 Loksabha seats. We look forward to read more and more articles in Bellevision, mangalorean.com and Daiji world (eg interview with AAP leaders) so that we do not fail to do Good to the Nation.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 12:49
Redefinition of Honesty by AAP Promise: The Yamuna River, the lifeline of Delhi is dying. AAP will ensure 100% collection and treatment of Delhi s sewage through an extensive sewer network and construction of new functional sewage treatment plants. Discharge of untreated water and industrial effluents into the river Yamuna will be strictly prohibited. Status: A project costing Rs. 3,656 crore has been prepared to provide sewerage services in uncovered areas and to prevent flow of wastewater into the river. The project involves setting up of 15 new Sewage Treatment Plants, 3 new Sewage Pumping Stations and peripheral sewer network. Sewage contributes to nearly 70% pollution load of Yamuna. The project will significantly reduce river pollution when completed. The ban on de-silting (even the settled sewage) by National Green Tribunal is sought to be lifted, so the river can be cleaned.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 12:26
Redefinition of AAP honesty Promise: AAP is committed to clamping down on Delhi s powerful water mafia working under the patronage of political leaders. AAP will put in place a transparent tanker water distribution system by implementing state-of-the-art techniques. The schedule of tankers operating in different localities would be made available online and on mobile phone. Private tankers will be allowed to operate under the guidelines framed by our government. This will protect the consumers from exorbitant pricing and illegal practices of private tanker operators. Status: Schedule of water tankers has been made available online. 414 water tankers are now equipped with GPS. Of the 380 tankers that have been hired by the DJB, 250 have GPS devices. The other 130 will be phased out. Further, issues concerning water tankers are now handled by the Chief Engineer, total four posts in Delhi, while earlier it was attended to by junior officials. Any complaint of corruption or inefficiency, only four heads which will roll! Any one dares to paly office office in DJB now? Try it with the AAP and CM !!
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 12:18
Redefinition of AAP honesty: Promise: AAP will ensure the firm implementation of the High Court order that says Delhi is entitled to extra raw water from Haryana in the Munak canal. The BJP government in State of Haryana and PM Modi-led Central Govt. have been dithering to co-operate. Status: Delhi s water supply has been at the highest level in history, the AAP government has managed to implement the order, and additional water from Munak Canal is coming to Delhi.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 12:10
Promise: The AAP government will abolish the C-1A (B) category to provide relief to households that run small shops from their residence,less than 100 square feet as means of livelihood, which are charged commercial rates in spite of the fact that they are not using water for commercial purposes. Status: In September 2015, the DJB abolished the Mixed-Use Category, C-1A(B). Activities which do not use water in its process undertaken, such as Atta Chakki, Stationary Shop, Kirana Shop, Shoes Shop, Grocery Shop, Mobile Shop, Cloth Shop, Tailor Shop, S.T.D. Booth, Property Dealer Office, Cyber Cafe, etc. and other similar activities, were placed in the Domestic Category. Other properties with mixed-use connections like processing or in manufacturing like Food Corner, Juice Shop, Snacks Counter, Tea Shop, Barber, Beauty Parlor, Dentist Clinic, Coaching Centers, Play School, Offices and such other similar activities were classified as Commercial Category. Needless to say, commercial category pay for water at higher tariff.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:47
Redefinition of AAP honesty: Promise: AAP will provide Water as a Right. It will provide universal access to clean drinking water to all citizens of Delhi at an affordable price. The Delhi Jal Board Act will be amended to make clean drinking water a right of the people. Status: Work on expanding access is ongoing, when entire Delhi population gets piped and metered water connections, and tanker supplies are discontinued (no water tanker mafia!), The DJA Water Supply Act will be enacted.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:42
R Promise: Conduct a comprehensive performance audit of DISCOMS by the CAG. They shall also be brought within the ambit of the RTI Act. We will ensure that the citizens of Delhi do not have to bear the burden of soaring power tariffs. Initially we will provide subsidy that would go not to the power DISCOMS but to Delhi Transco, a state-owned transmission company to which DISCOMS owe Rs 3,500 crore in unpaid bills. This money will help Delhi Transco upgrade and augment its transmission capacity, which is in a bad state. The lack of funds at Transco s disposal is one of the main reasons for the frequent power outages in the state. After the audit results are tabled in the assembly, power tariffs will be restructured. Status: In January 2014, AAP ordered the audit for period beginning 2002. According to leaked reports, DISCOMS inflated dues by Rs. 8000 crore. DISCOMS sued, matter is pending in Supreme Court for hearing from 2 March 2016 onwards.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:34
Redefinition of AAP Honesty Promise: AAP will keep its promise of reducing electricity bills by half. A more efficient, transparent and accountable system to regulate and audit the power generation and distribution companies is the need of the hour and AAP will do everything within its command to achieve that. DISCOMS should purchase power from economical sources and wriggle out of expensive and unsustainable Power Purchase Agreements. AAP will take measures to provide relief from rising power bills, namely generating cheaper electricity, improving transmission efficiency, fixing billing defects and correcting meter defects. Status: AAP government slashed power tariff by 50% for households which used 400 units per month, with effect from 1st March 2015. Others pay full market rate without subsidy. Pay or Conserve, fair and wise!
Philip Muartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:13
Redefinition of AAP honesty #5 Promise: A Citizen Local Area Development (C-LAD) Fund will be given to every Mohalla Sabha and Resident Welfare Association, ensuring funds and functions in the hands of the community. Status: "Swaraj Fund" was announced in the budget to enable the citizens in selection and implementation of programs prioritized by them for the development of their area. Rs. 253 crore under the Swaraj Fund Scheme was provisioned. In the first year, this is being implemented in 11 constituencies, where Mohalla Sabhas were organized to know the requirements of the citizens. To meet these requirements, Rs. 20 crore has been allocated to these 11 constituencies while for the remaining 59 constituencies, Rs. 50 lakh was allocated.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:10
Redefinition of AAP honesty #4 Promise: Decisions affecting the local community will be taken by citizens and implemented by their Secretariat. Status: The Mohalla Sabhas working in 11 constituencies on pilot basis, will be scaled to all 70 constituencies of Delhi. MLA funds of Rs 10 crore abolished, which will be budget of each Mohalla Sabha from 1st April 2016.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 11:03
Redefinition of AAP honesty: Promise: AAP will enact Swaraj Act to devolve power directly to the people. Status: LG and Centre will not approve the Swaraj Bill, so AAP changed strategy and incorporated the spirit of Swaraj by setting up Mohalla Sabhas in 11 assembly constituencies so far, work-in-progress.
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 10:59
Redefinition of Honesty by AAP: Promise: A Citizens Charter shall be introduced in all state government offices in Delhi. Status: The Delhi legislative assembly passed the Delhi (Right Of Citizen To Time Bound Delivery of Services) Amendment Bill. Among other provisions, the Bill prioritizes each government department to put out a "comprehensive citizens charter" within 30 days of its notification, and that responsibility lies with the Heads of Department. No wonder government officers are up against AAP. Now, they have to work and deliver without chai-paani!
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Tue, February-16-2016, 10:51
Redefinition of Honesty in Delhi#1 Promise: Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill if voted to power. This will ensure a time-bound investigation in matters of corruption. The Delhi Lokpal will have the power to initiate investigations and prosecution against those charged with corruption. Whistleblowers will be provided protection and awarded for their contribution toward creating a just system. Status: AAP delivered, the bill was passed in the Delhi Legislative Assembly on 4th December, 2015. Who stalls it? LG keeps it pending for his approval through Central Government, read PM Modi.
Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Mon, February-15-2016, 6:20
By managing to turn challenges as opportunities we will see a better India tomorrow. AK is minimizing corruption for sure. Good article Philip!
AKIL VIJAY DSOUZA, MOODUBELLE/BANGALORE Mon, February-15-2016, 12:21
Very nice article with correct analysis of facts and results. Yes, we all know AK had gone through lot of ups and downs in a very short period of his political career. But now he is steadily picking up the pace and moving forward with some bold decisions and by correcting and learning from his past mistakes. Though some people/media is making fun of him/his team, only the educated people know the real worth and crystal clear intentions of this team in the long run of India s development. Congratulations to AK and his team and wishing them all the very best for upcoming developmental executions.
Alphonse Crasta, Kinnigoli / Goa Mon, February-15-2016, 11:03
Dear Mr.Benedict Noronha, please do not go by the news and debates of TV channels. The maintstream media is bought or aligned towards either congress or BJP. They will make a big noise of any negative news about AAP but when AAP has take up several revolutionary projects and works, they do not even show a teaser. If you wanted to know the fact, check with someone who is from Delhi. The public of Delhi knows how their life has improved. If the Centre do not intervene in day to day politics of Delhi, then it would have been a different story altogether. You will see it in Punjab very soon
Rudolf Mendonca, Vamanjoor / Mangalore Mon, February-15-2016, 9:53

Arvind Kejriwal is the new hope of India. He has proved how corruption can damage the development cycle. He has also proved that if administrtion is handled properly then one can give free water, subsidised electricity, free medicines and many more benefits without affecting the budget and finances. I hope this wave of honest politics will spread across India very soon

Benedict Noronha, Udupi / India Mon, February-15-2016, 8:07
I am happy to read the detailed notes of my dear Philip Mudartha. I also appreciate that if the honesty of AAP is really honesty then perhaps in the 21st century the HONESTY has been redifined and I am unaware of it. But let us be clear that truth cannot be made untruth and politicians are politicians. Every where citizen are being fooled! and Press /media is the mqain cause for that.
Baptist Sequeira, Moodubelle Sun, February-14-2016, 8:59
A wonderful article sir. you have brought all the last years memories back where from dawn till mid night only AAP I was watching and in my life that day was the happiest. As we all know if truth fails God has to fail. So if AAP people honestly work on truth then one or the other day in small small steps India will reach a better stage, than a -ve and bitter politics. We can see from BJP and Congress not even 1 good job they appreciated of AAP, and this kind of -ve politics rule India since Independence.. and that is why where we are now.
Ramakrishna G., Bangalore Sun, February-14-2016, 5:46
A honest and simple leader who works for betterment of common people rather than appeasing to businessmen and corrupt people. Smart people are important than Smart Cities. Delhi is showing the way to entire India
Valerian Alva, Kattingeri Sun, February-14-2016, 2:25
I am happy to read this analysis of one year of work by AAP government in Delhi. I really admire the honesty and courage Team Kejriwal is showing amidst all the opposition and tactics played BJP led centre. AAP has done wonderful work and I am sure in next 4 years they will be able to make Delhi a Model State. Had the Delhi police and MCD under their control, then it would have been a different story. Let the BJP do whatever they can, but the ordinary person knows who is right and who is wrong. You may buy media channels, newspapers and oppose everything but the people of Delhi knows how the things have changed for better, be it in education, health, electricity, water, traffic, roads, security. I am confident, AAP will win in Punjab. I see Kejriwal as the next PM within 10 years of time as their honest and effcient work will make every Indian to vote for him and his team. India is on the cross-roads and Kejriwal and his team will make India the real super power.
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