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Top Achievements of the AAP Government

July 7, 2015

It is rather easy to identify the biggest achievement of the Aam Aadmi Party government in the first five months of being at the helm of power in Delhi – the success of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in remaining in news and hogging the headlines!

Notable Achievements of Kejriwal Government

If at all there has been a Chief Minister amongst 29 others, who continuously made news nationally yet remained untainted with scams, it was Kejriwal. (Yet another Chief Minister making news is Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but that is because of the deaths of the witnesses and whistleblowers of the Vyapam scam in his state than his own design to hog the media space).

The bespectacled and diminutive AAP supremo has a habit of courting controversies without compunction. He has taken the battle of supremacy in Delhi to the corridors of the mightiest. In the process he seems to have emerged as a perennial David who always impulsively takes on the Goliaths.

Kejriwal’s fight with the Centre for a clarity on his role as an elected Chief Minister of a purported state that is not yet recognized as a full-fledged state has been laudable. His fight to earn full statehood for the national capital has caught the imagination of the gentry. The way he spatted publicly with the Lieutenant Governor – the all-powerful executive accountable only to the Union Government – only speaks of his unconventional ways!

There is a deliberate design in dragging the issue of governance and even petitioning the President on the matter, and  the AAP government has succeeded in this design to impress upon the electorates that the government, indeed, needs ‘real’ power to keep its poll promises.

This ploy had already worked wonders for the AAP earlier when Kejriwal abruptly quit the government during the AAP’s first stint in power last year. While his detractors were quick to write his epitaph, Kejriwal bounced back with a record-breaking 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly in the subsequent state election earlier this year.

This time, Kejriwal’s move for a referendum on statehood for Delhi could be a masterstroke at a time when the iron is hot. “Do a referendum in Delhi. Draft a law and create machinery for referendum”, the CM has reportedly directed the state urban department along these lines. This is an achievement of sorts considering none of the previous governments in Delhi had pursued the matter of full statehood as vigorously as the AAP government.

Yet the script for such a move was already written during the polls. Statehood for Delhi is a longstanding demand and figures in the manifestoes of almost all the political parties’, including those of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s and the AAP’s. The AAP though senses an opportunity to pursue it with rigour as many of its 70 poll-time promises can be achieved only when its government gets full powers associated with governments of full-fledged states.

Quite significantly the AAP government has sought to give its controversial battle with the Lieutenant Governor a public dimension — “We are not fighting for personal gains, but for the people’s rights, their benefit, and against corruption”, as deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said at the much publicised ‘Janta ki Cabinet, Janta ke Beech’  organized at the Central Park in Connaught Place to mark the completion of 100 days of AAP government in Delhi on 25th May .

The split in the party days after the formation of the government, and the alleged involvement of its axed law minister as well as another MLA in the fake degree cases and a case of domestic violence against another MLA did deliver a setback to the Kejriwal government (refer to http://www.elections.in/blog/top-controversies-of-aap-government/).

However, much to the credit of Kejriwal, he has kept his sights clear. He has handled all the controversies generated out of his public spat with the Lieutenant Governor deftly which indeed is a creditable achievement. His government has promptly taken actions against the corrupt officials. In the process, AAP government is subtly conveying the message of being targeted by the corrupt!

Despite the tussle between the LG and Kejriwal over the blurred space of governance, another achievement of Kejriwal is that there is no ‘policy paralysis’ and the government purportedly embarked on fulfilling its 70 point development agenda by setting up a new body, the Delhi Dialogue Commission – what if that required a standoff with the Centre! (The BJP has demanded that Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung initiates an enquiry into the working of Delhi Dialogue Commission as it claims the AAP government was “giving government facilities to its MLAs and distributing jobs amongst the party cadre and supporters”).

Two crucial achievements for the AAP government since coming to power were honouring its poll promise of delivering 20,000 litre free water per month that is expected to benefit, as per the government estimates, 9.55 lakh consumers, which is more than 50% of total consumers;  and 50 per cent cut in the existing  power tariff to the domestic consumers of electricity consuming upto 400 Units per month with effect from March 1, 2015. It went on to provide rebates on pending bills and reduced the water development charge, and anticipates that the power tariff cut would benefit around 36 lakh domestic consumers “which is 90% of total electricity consumers under domestic category”. For both power and water subsidies, the state government made a Budgetary provision, respectively of Rs. 70 crore and Rs. 21 crore in the Revised Estimates 2014- 15 under the Non-Plan Budget.

The state government also ordered registry of plots with boundary walls to initiate steps to upkeep its yet another poll promise to regularize the resettlement colonies. The government also banned demolitions in residential premises and slums.

Some other achievements were:

1) The anti-corruption helpline number 1031 was re-launched on April 5.

2) An audit of the power discoms was ordered.

3) The government issued notices to various schools in Delhi to comply with the norms on fees structure. It disallowed donation and capitation fees in schools.

4) The government raised the minimum wage for workers in the unorganized sector.

5) The government claims it has ended the “transfer posting industry” within the government. A big achievement if it is truly effected! It further claims to have stopped the “Red beacon culture” by disallowing red beacons on the cars of even the Chief Minister.

To express its intent to commit its promises is a big hallmark of the AAP government. It is showing in its actions. Consider the pace with which the government allowed the traders to carry forward the refund of VAT and extended the date of filing R9 Form. Also consider that the pilot project to install 1.5 lakh CCTV in different parts of the city too has already begun, and the government has also set a February deadline for making Delhi a free Wi Fi zone at 1000 hotspots, even as the quantum of free internet still remains a contentious issue to be tackled.

An important expression of intent as made by deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in his budget was a boost to the social sector spending. The government doubled the plan outlay on education to Rs. 4,570 crore from Rs. 2,219 crore in the previous year, and this indeed is an achievement given the fact that government spending on education has been dismally low in the country. Besides, the state government also focused overwhelmingly on the health sector in its maiden budget.

In the wake of the ballooning subsidy burden though, it is important how the state government proceeds to meet the almost across-the-board increase in expenditures. “It is estimated that we shall collect Rs. 24,000 crore through VAT, which is 69.3 percent of the total revenue collections of the government. We have also noticed a growth of 37.6 percent in VAT collection in the last two months”, Sisodia explained.

It may be mentioned that VAT is the main source of revenue generation for the Delhi government. However, the state government reduced VAT on certain items such as wood and timber and increased on some including petrol and diesel – decisions that invited much criticism. The government though affirms its belief in providing a stable tax regime. “We are not tinkering with the tax rates, barring a few clarifications to remove the ambiguity in case of certain items…” Sisodia claims.

In the coming days though, the government needs to prove its fiscal prudence and financial management. It requires highest degree of transparency and it is here that the government needs to proceed on its pet issue of getting the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill cleared. Whether the Bill in its present form is okay or needs amendment though is another issue. But getting a Jan Lokpal Bill, and also getting a new Lokpal after the sacking of Admiral Ramdas created a big dent in the government’s credibility, would be a great achievement! Kejriwal, with a penchant of inviting controversies, does need more transparency to stay afloat all controversies!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

I am a journalist, educationist and filmmaker with over twenty years of experience in the media industry. I have worked in different capacities in all formats (print, television and web) in prestigious media organizations in India and abroad. As a journalist I have covered social issues, natural calamities, successive state assembly as well as parliament elections since 1989, government offices, Indian political parties, state legislative assemblies as well as Indian Parliament.

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