As Arvind Kejriwal completes his 100 days in office, Delhi would like to look back and see whether the Chief Minister has vindicated people’s faith in him, after they voted overwhelmingly in his party’s support at a time when the general perception gave little chance to AAP.
In all fairness, 100 days is too early to judge a Chief Minister and his Cabinet’s performance but then CM Kejriwal has thrown the gauntlet by opening his party’s performance to scrutiny against PM Modi completing one year in office. The attempt may be brave but not really comparable and each has to be evaluated independently.
One has to agree that Arvind Kejriwal is a tenacious fighter with a ‘never say die’ attitude. When few were willing to bet on his party, he kept his focus and continued his people contact with a humble ‘I care’ message. It worked and he won with a thumping majority. But ever since he has taken office, he has not really been able to focus on improving administration or initiating development, both of which Delhi badly needs. He has been facing a hostile media, an aggressive opposition and has had to devote much time fighting one controversy after another.
His biggest challenge has come from within the party with core members Prashant and Shanti Bhushan, along with the media savvy Yogendra Yadav, openly rebelling against his dictatorial style of functioning. What should have remained within closed doors was fought in the open with media having a field day playing both sides.
To add to the political infighting was the very tragic suicide by oneGajendra Singh, a distressed farmer from Rajasthan, during a farmer’s rally in Delhi. The tragedy was further compounded with the Delhi Police and Delhi Government accusing each other for being responsible. In the end, AAP got shone in poor light.
AAP came into existence mainly because of its unwavering stand on Lokpal issue and had been vociferous on its commitment to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill, as one of its top priorities on coming to power. Unfortunately, not much has happened on this front. Same goes for the promise of full statehood for Delhi. By adopting an anti-centre stance, how does Arvind Kejriwal intend to fulfill this important poll promise?
In a perfect example of shooting himself in the foot, Arvind Kejriwal has accused the media of ganging up against him and his party, a move that hasn’t gone down too well with the people, opposition parties and most of all, the media.
On the economic front, he has recently announced that Delhi will not support FDI in retail. While the debate on the pros and cons of FDI in retail are still open, has this been a hasty move on part of CM Kejriwal?
Tall on promise, low on delivery – will take its toll in the next election
The biggest challenge of winning with a massive mandate is to keep up with people’s expectation and Arvind Kejriwal’s 100 days is beginning to resemble a T20 Cricket match where the first eight overs are gone just surviving at the crease with very few runs scored, and the run rate climbing with each passing over. That’s exactly the situation with Arvind Kejriwal and his party.
It was easy to make tall promises during the campaign phase but 100 days into power and the poll promises seem more improbable to achieve with each passing day. Let’s take a closer look at what he promised to the people and what has been achieved so far.
He offered to lower power tariffs on coming to power and to his credit it was one of his first actions. He implemented it. That said, how is he going to make up the shortfall? He is already at loggerheads with the Discoms by threatening an audit but hasn’t come up with any answers on how he plans to raise the money to make up the shortfall.
His next sop to people of Delhi was the 20 KL of water subsidy along with a rebate on pending water bills. He is planning to extend the goodies further by reducing the water development charge from the existing Rs 400 per sq yard to Rs 100 per sq yard.
The big question is – how is CM Kejriwal going to raise the requisite funds to bridge the subsidy gap? Furthermore, where are the additional funds needed to finance the tall promises he made pre-poll?
His most eye-catching promise was to construct 1.5 lakh toilets for women and 50,000 toilets for general public use. 100 days have gone by. Can the CM state how many new toilets have been built and made functional since and by when does he plan to complete all two lakh toilets?
In the post Nirbhaya phase, women’s safety was a major poll issue and AAP was very vocal in stressing that they would install 15 lakh CCTV cameras to improve surveillance and response time by Delhi Police. How many CCTVs have been purchased and installed since the new government took office? If the tenders have not been released as yet, we are a long way before even a fraction of the promised 15 lakh CCTVs get installed and made functional.
Moreover, has any audit been undertaken to see how many of the legacy CCTVs are still functioning? Crimes against women continue unabated and Delhi continues to wait for its CCTVs.
New water and electricity lines were to be installed in all unauthorized colonies. How many water lines have been tendered for and how many electricity meters have been installed since the AAp came to power? Arvind Kejriwal has a lot of supporters from this segment and they continue to look up to him to deliver on his promises. With each passing day the target for deliverables keeps increasing.
Take a look at education. This was an area of priority for AAP and the party had promised to set up 500 new schools. 100 days on, has any land been acquired or any tender released for constructing any new school? For higher education, 20 new colleges were supposed to be built. Can the Delhi government state what action it has taken to initiate construction of the same?
Infrastructure development is a major issue and if Arvind Kejriwal is to develop Delhi, he will need all the support and cooperation of the centre. His anti-establishment stance hasn’t helped and 100 days on, he remains pretty much where he was on Day 1. Delhi badly needs to improve public transport and DTC plays an important part in ensuring that people travel without stress and on time. For this, AAP promised to acquire 5,000 additional air-conditioned buses but very little has happened towards initiating the procurement process.
Delhi needs more flyovers, underpasses, storm water drainage, drinking water pipelines, improved sewerage and waste management systems and affordable housing. So where is Mr Kejriwal going to raise the funds to fund all of these? There is still no definitive plan on how fresh funds are going to be raised to finance all the projects that have been promised.
By the time the next elections are due, the people of Delhi will only look at results and not why it wasn’t achieved. But then the CM is well aware of that. 100 days have gone by with little to show.
It’s time for action Mr CM
Arvind Kejriwal has put himself in a corner, surrounded by a hostile opposition attacking his every move, a media that was once his friend, his own party that is increasingly questioning his authority and a patient public that waits for him to deliver. Can Arvind Kejriwal pull himself out of this situation?
There is still time for the CM to take initiative and refocus on better administration and development, but will his own party continue to offer wholehearted support remains to be seen.
Time is ticking Mr Kejriwal and people’s patience can’t be taken for granted. You were the one who made the promises and now you will have to walk the talk or by next election, simply walk.
The views/opinion expressed in this article are those of author and do not necessarily represent the views of this Website.
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