AAP IN DELHI: NOT A PROMISING DEBUT, BUT CAN STILL CLAIM THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT, BUT..

They began with high promises, dubbed impossible or near-impossible to achieve, by their political adversaries, by many experts.

Therefore, they began with proportionately placed sky-high levels of expectations, dubbed, again, impossible to fulfill by many.

So, a clear and tough, almost impossible sounding, job was already cut out.

Aam Aadmi Party government led by Arvind Kejriwal did act on the two major promises within a week and is in process of acting on the third one – on power and water tariff and on cracking down on VIP culture (at least it looks so) – the most potent and symbolically the most important for Kejriwal and AAP to prove their mettle behind their claims of cleaning the politics and being an ‘all out’ ‘aam aadmi’ party.

But have they really initiated to deliver the way they should have?

They haven’t.

Being dubbed as masterstrokes, the steps taken by Arvind Kejriwal and AAP government in Delhi should raise valid points of doubt and they must be raised if the political experiment, AAP is a test subject of, has to move in a right direction.

What the AAP government has done in the name of power and water tariff is more on the line of Congress politics manipulating different sub-sets of votebanks, doling out sops to some at the cost of some others, to appeal to the voters with populist measures.

What they have done has established elements of the votebank politics to reflect on. (And that is not acceptable.)

Reducing power tariff for two power slabs while not touching the third one, the highest one, is silly. The power bill pinches most in summers and is a problem for the huge middle class living in Delhi. And it is true that, in Delhi, even many lower middle class families use air-conditioners in these days of easy EMIs. So, the power tariff rejig is not going to be of much help. But the AAP purpose is served in the short run as the Lok Sabha polls are scheduled for April-May, before the summer peaks.

Similar is the story of the water tariff. Most of the middle class households are going to pay 10% higher for the bills as they would easily surpass the 20 kilolitres of the monthly free limit. Also, many of the intended beneficiaries would not be able to avail it, those living in slums and in irregular colonies with no regular metered water connections.

And these are not reduced tariffs. The AAP government is subsidizing them. Okay to restructure and so to bring down tariffs, they need time and so subsidy is okay in the short run.

But, are they going to restructure the power and water tariffs? Are they going to make the reduced power and water bills subsidy free so that it doesn’t come at the cost of hampering the development work?

And above all, segregating the voters in different classes like Congress does. Like Congress doles out a Food Security Bill diverting a huge share of public exchequer’s fund even if the economy is in mess, even if it comes at a prices of making food grains more costly for the middle class.

And not just the population living below the poverty line, the huge and burgeoning middle class, that is rapidly becoming a pan-India phenomenon, they all are ‘aam aadmi’ Mr. Kejriwal. They, too, voted for you.

You and your party need to learn this soon.

Now that you have begun to bring down power and water tariff, make them structured and class-free. That is the only way to clear the valid doubts being raised.

And remember, you don’t have time. Also, please stop faltering on ‘cracking down’ on the VIP culture promise. Not taking government bungalows, then accepting two palatial flats, then saying no on public outrage, SUVs for your ministers, trouble for common public on your Delhi Metro sojourns – these are putting you in bad light.

Yes, you still have the benefit of doubt as you and your party need some more time to draw clarity on the complex matters of state finances and governance and how to make them independent of the layers of the votebank politics.

But remember, everything is under intense scrutiny and if AAP is different, as claimed, it needs to show us soon.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/