Bouquets, brickbats as Delhi government completes two years


By Vishav and Ashish Mishra

New Delhi, Feb 13 : The AAP government in Delhi completed two tumultuous years on Monday claiming many successes despite serious tussles with the Centre, but critics say there are failings too.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the country’s youngest political outfit, says it is proud of what it has achieved in just two years in the capital since sweeping to power winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats.

Education and healthcare are two areas in which, most people admit, the Arvind Kejriwal government has made a mark but the AAP says there is plenty more.

After bringing down power tariff in 2015, it has not been allowed to go up. Every household gets 20,000 litres of water free. Several of the normally broken down government schools now sport a brand new look.

A total of 8,000 classrooms have been built, amounting to some 100 new schools. Government school teachers and principals have been sent abroad for training. And private schools built on government land have not been allowed to hike student fees at will. Some schools which did so had to return the money to parents.

Delhi’s students now get Rs 10 lakh in loan for higher education without any collateral.

Some 110 Mohalla Clinics that have come up across the capital offer free doctor consultation, tests and medicines. Medicines are given for free at Delhi government hospitals too.

In a city where urinating in the open is a nuisance, around 7,000 toilets — which many admit are maintained well — have sprung up.

The government says it saved Rs 350 crore on new flyovers, boosted VAT collection by ending “Inspector Raj”, compensated farmers Rs 20,000 an acre for crop losses and is rolling out ‘pucca’ houses for slum dwellers.

“We aimed for 100 marks and have managed to get 80-90,” Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain, a Kejriwal confidante, told IANS, listing out the achievements.

“Despite all the interference and hurdles by the central government, we achieved in two years what earlier governments couldn’t achieve in 15-20 years.”

Even those who are not Kejriwal admirers admit that no state government has faced the kind of obstacles from the central government that the AAP has.

The first of the turf wars over issues of governance between the city and the central governments began in June 2015 when the latter took control of the state’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).

Since then, 16 AAP legislators have been booked by Delhi Police on a litany of charges, most of which are floundering in courts.

The AAP says virtually every central agency — Central Bureau of Investigation, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate as well as police — have been used to trip it.

Kejriwal and then Lt Governor Najeeb Jung also ran a high-pitched verbal war until he quit in December. The AAP, which blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all its woes, looks at peace with Jung’s successor, Anil Baijal.

Jain, who also holds the Public Works Department portfolio, admitted that the government has fallen short of the expectations it had set for itself.

“We wanted to build 1,000 clinics by December 2016. We hope to meet the target in three or four months.”

Added Delhi government spokesman Nagendar Sharma: “We still have three years to fulfil all our promises.

“I consider not letting power rates increase the biggest achievement,” he told IANS. “It is the first time this didn’t go up in Delhi.”

The AAP is also gearing up for the April municipal elections in Delhi, without whose control, it says, it can’t clean up the capital as it would like to. The civic bodies are now with the BJP.

The BJP and the Congress are not impressed.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said Kejriwal had “still not come out of his opposition mode”.

“He keeps on complaining about the central government’s interference instead of finding solutions to problems. It is for the first time under AAP that Delhi Metro failed to meet its deadline in its third phase.

“They haven’t installed a single CCTV camera as promised for women safety. They have undone all the work accomplished during our rule.”

BJP Delhi President Manoj Tiwari said that people in slums and unauthorized colonies were not getting water. The government had failed to regularize “even a single” unauthorized colony, he said.