High Hopes from AAP: Action Heroes Needed

After AAP almost literally swept the elections in the capital, it’s now time to examine what their victory truly means to all Delhiites. The AAP manifesto which was issued for the 2015 Delhi elections, made 70 promises in a bid to stitch up an unusual coalition of support from the rich, middle class and the poor. AAP promises us our own ‘Acche din’, just not that explicitly.

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The following is a discussion about some of the most important and noticeable points of the plan.

Point 8 of the Aam Aadmi Party 70 point plan reads that Delhi will be made into a solar city.It also speaks of providing incentives to households to facilitate a gradual change to renewable energy.
AAP’s aim of fulfilling at least 20% of the energy needs of the city through solar energy by 2015 doesn’t even seem remotely feasible. If we talk the most common area of energy usage and wastage into account- transportation, majorly with regard to vehicles- as of June 30, 2014, Delhi had 16.6 million ‘registered’ vehicles, statistically, the highest in the world. Also, taking into account the concept of solar vehicles, it can be safely concluded that these are and will be as well- taken and familiar to the people of Delhi as humility to Robert Vadra. The only notable step, perhaps, which has been taken in this regard, was the setting up of a target, way back in 2012, to put 10,000 solar powered rickshaws on the streets of Delhi.

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Point 10 of the plan speaks about the party’s promise of ensuring free lifeline water of upto 20 KILOLITRES to every household through a Delhi Jal Bard meter. Firstly, more than 35% of the households in Delhi are not even on the Delhi Jal Board grid. Hence, what arises here is the first gaping hole in the promise made: can a promise, made with relative ease, also be applied with consummate administrative simplicity?

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Further, comes the point regarding, what exactly is free. Since the cost of simply making water available in every household is high, the question which arises here is whether any state government or even the Central government, for that matter, can ever be financially capable to provide such a sum of water FREE of cost? There will be restrictions on free water too. Households using more than 20,000 litres will have to pay for the entire amount consumed. And this free water will actually cost the government Rs. 250 crore a year, beginning April 1. While AAP has been able to circumvent the fault in their earlier promise regarding quantity of water being made free not even being able to subsist a mere family of four, have they actually solved an issue, or further intensified it?

Further, converging on some of the most avid and loyal supporters of AAP through point 54, we have the provision provided for the auto drivers. This particular point speaks about instituting special bank loans and rates of interest so that the autos can be acquired more easily. Alongside this, the plan also endeavors to provide, I kid you not, special training to the auto drivers, to improve their overall conduct. Now, while there is no skepticism in my mind regarding how noble a pursuit this is, it goes on to show how idealistic and hence, how impractical this point is. Having grown up around Delhi himself, it should have become abundantly clear to Arvind Kejriwal, by now at least, that such a Herculean task of sprucing up the Delhi auto drivers will, most probably, prove to be even Maya Sarabhai’s Achilles’ Heel.

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Coming to point 38, the free WiFi debacle. T&C apply.
The two conditions being imposed by AAP which came into light much after the promise had been made, are WiFi being free for only 30 minutes and demanding a password for further usage after such time has elapsed, and only public websites, which deal with governance being operational. Now, since I don’t remember the last time anyone asked for a WiFi password because they couldn’t wait to check the updates on ‘public websites which deal with governance’, effectively, the promise has been rendered as useless as VirenderSehwag to the Indian Cricket Team. A very deceptive promise technique this, especially for voters within a certain age group, I don’t see it being far behind than any popular propaganda promise made by the other major political parties, from which the AamAadmi Party claim to be radically different.

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One of the most impact bearing points of the 70 point plan is point number 3, which talks about AAP pushing for attaining full statehood for Delhi. This will ensure institutions such as the DDA, MCD and Delhi Police will be accountable to the state government of Delhi, and not the Central Government. This is also one of those points which affects not a certain group, but all the people residing in Delhi at large.

The 70 point plan is comprehensive, touching upon electricity issues, health, sanitation and waste management. The setting up of fast track courts, simplifying VAT structures, MOST IMPORTANTLY the Lokpal bill. AAP also plans to install 15 lakh CCTV cameras for safety of women, stating that if the same can be done for Obama’s well-being, ‘Why can’t the same be done for our mothers and sisters?’All in all, the action plan raises some relevant issues and details needed measures. All promises and policy tend to look good on paper, the question is how well they are delivered.

Even though the manifesto is thin on implementation and some points seem impractical, while some seem impossible to implement with existing funds (or lack thereof). Thus, the implementation of it largely depends on the kind of budget drafter and of course, how the funds are utilized over these 5 years.

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The real judgment however can only be delivered if and when they are implemented, and implemented well, we hope! This time, there are no claims by the party to achieve a lot in an impossibly short frame. So instead of 49 days this time, 5 years will see the implementation of these measures. Their work will speak volumes if most of the action points actually come into action.

Let’s hope the aam admi does some extraordinary work this time.

 

 

By Manvika Athwani

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