Aam Aadmi Party – Manifesto And Promises

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) manifesto has 37 promises. This article tries to capture the practicality of, maybe a dozen of the promises, which are seemingly impossible to deliver. Why is AAP lacking the political acumen to make feasible promises?

The Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill issue:

Let us deal with the promise no. 1 in the manifesto of the AAP i.e. the passing of the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill by the AAP within 15 days of forming the new Government. The proposed bill is also aimed at redesigning the Lokyukta Bill, after the lines of the Jan Lokpal Bill, as proposed by AAP, which includes all public servants (inclusive of the Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs) within its circumscription. The Congress, the BJP and even Anna Hazare is congruent with the opinion that such a Bill would need approval from the Centre, considering Delhi’s political position as the National Capital Territory. So, overriding the Centre’s authority in passing the Bill is going to be a tough hurdle. Besides, the Bill has to be passed by the Lok Sabha, which then goes to the President for ratification. Only under such circumstances the Jan Lokpal Bill can see the light as a legislature in Delhi. Delhi Assembly cannot pass the Bill. When Kejriwal was reminded of the constitutional hurdles in passing the Bill, he maintained his confident composure that all such bottlenecks will be crushed and the Bill will be passed. In India? That too in just 15 days time? Sounds unrealistic!!

Simplification of the Government procedure issue:

Promise no. 5 in the AAP manifesto deals with the simplification of the Government procedures, as complex Governmental procedures are one of the root causes of corruption. That means, doing away with the bureaucratic red tapes involved in all Government procedures, which had been in existence for decades. Easier said than done, of course. What does Kejriwal think? His anti – corruption Excalibur will simply slice through the complications and procedures, while the opposition BJP and the political ally Congress who had been instrumental in implementing some of these procedures will simply sit back and watch?

The Mohalla Sabha issue:

Promises no. 6 and 7 in the manifesto deals with the Mohalla Sabhas. The manifesto discusses in detail the functional utility of the Mahalla Sabhasand also upholds the passing of the Swaraj Bill (promise no. 4 in the AAP manifesto) which in turn will implement 2700 Mohalla Sabhas in the State of Delhi. The Mohalla Sabhas, envisaged along the lines of the Gram Sabhas, forms a pivotal part of the Government as visualized by the AAP. Simply stated the Mohalla Sabhas, also dubbed as Urban Panchayets, will be responsible for the upgradation of the Public Distribution System (PDS), certificates pertaining to birth and death, primary health centers, educational institutions, beneficiaries of different schemes of the Government and urban development in general, which will include street lighting, recreational parks, road maintenance and even liquor off-shops.  Essentially, the Mahalla Sabhas are an effort to eradicate corruption at the lower levels by empowering common people with decision making capabilities. The AAP has plans of allocating unlimited funds for the Mohalla Sabhas which will be earmarked for various developmental programs. In fact, the final acknowledgement of any Governmental work will come from the Mohalla Sabhas if and when the Sabha is satisfied with the results. Payments for such works will be released only after that. However, AAP has refrained from describing the procedures of constituting and selecting Mohalla Sabha members. The source of the financial aids for such Sabhas also remains unclear. For the proper functioning of the Mahalla Sabhas, transparent appointments of Councilors and local officers will be necessary and the process will be tedious. Besides, unlimited funds and decision making power should be in the hands of qualified members of such Sabhas. Otherwise such Sabhas where power and fund is being transferred in the hands of people, who are not previously experienced in handling them even at the colony level, might just prove to be hotbeds of corruption which will defeat the entire cause of the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal.

The promise about the electric bill issue:

The promises nos. 17 to 21in the manifesto deals with the reduction of the domestic electricity tariffs by 50%, which was also a major poll plank of the AAP during the election campaigns. However, such ideas of the AAP can at the best be described as Utopian and extremely non – feasible. The ‘arm twisting tactics’ of the private electric supply companies as suggested in the AAP manifesto will hardly be enough to deliver such an outrageous promise. It is a fact that the electricity tariffs have shot up incredibly in the last two years and burning holes in the pocket of the common people of Delhi. But, a slashing of the electric bills by 50% is only possible through Government subsidies. The former Delhi Principal Secretary (power), Shakti Sinha has designated AAP’s promise of curtailing electricity bills as totally ‘unsustainable’. As further elaborated by Sinha to the media, the electricity tariffs are calibrated by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. Under such circumstances, the Delhi Government can only instruct the Commission and as per the estimates of Mr Sinha, an exorbitant amount of Rs 5000 crores will have to be paid out of the Government’s pocket as subsidies to the population of Delhi to meet the 50% reduction in the electricity bill promise as suggested in the manifesto of the AAP. Former Secretary in the Union Power Ministry, Anil Razdan had also expressed his serious doubts about AAP living up to its tall claims on the electricity bill issue.

The promise about the water issue:

Another poll plank of the AAP had been the resolution to deliver 700 litres of drinkable and potable water for every family in Delhi every day, (promise no. 22 to 24 in the AAP manifesto). However, such promise of the AAP also turns out to be non –viable given the current water scenario in the city. As per a Census conducted in 2011, about one fourth of the population of Delhi is deprived of properly treated and piped drinkable water. The approximate water consumption of the city is estimated to be 1100 million gallons with the Delhi Jal Board claiming to supply 200 litres of water to every household. Now, raising such supplies by 500 liters more will need a tremendous refurbishment of the water distribution infrastructure. The officially acknowledged water shortage is estimated to be 850 million gallons, while the reality is probably much more. According to the recent estimates, an additional expenditure of Rs 340 crores has to be incurred by the Government to supply free drinkable water as per the AAP manifesto promises. It is to be kept in mind that such estimations have been made taking into account only 72% (the officially acknowledged population under the present water distribution system) of the total population of 16.8 million of Delhi. Added to it is a 40% loss in the available water resources due to a rickety water distribution infrastructure. So, no matter what extra tariff and surcharge and other contingency measures the new Government may adopt, 700 litres of water for every household, everyday is still a pipedream!

And lastly, the legalization of the unauthorized colonies which had allegedly burgeoned under the encouragement of the politicians, which happened to be another poll plank of AAP and promises nos. 30 and 31 of the AAP manifesto, will prove to be another harrowing task for the AAP Government in Delhi.


Arvind Kejriwal is essentially an idealist stepping into the political arena for the first time. Now that he is a part of the system, an educated man like Kejriwal will soon realize how the political cookie crumbles. The promises made in the AAP manifesto have no dearth of good intentions, but a serious lack of practicality and that’s why they look so good on paper. Implementation in actuality will prove the grit of the greenhorn AAP. As for the anti – corruption crusade, Kejriwal must remember that the corruption in our country is like the Greek mythological many headed Hydra monster of Lerna, who with every head cut off grew back two in its place. Let’s just see if Arvind Kejriwal can be today’s Hercules who had slain the Hydra of Lerna in the mythologies!