ANOTHER SHAMBOLIC ACT BY AAP

It is not about that petrol and diesel are still cheaper in Delhi than neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

It is about betraying people once again and that too when the Aam Aadmi Party government is just five months old in the office – the five months that it completed only yesterday.

And the move by the AAP government has come just two weeks after denying to plan anything on this line.

After the uproar two weeks ago about the proposal to increase VAT, Raghav Chadda, the party’s spokesperson, had rushed to clarify: “We have reduced the penalty. We didn’t say that we are increasing the VAT. We have just tabled the amendment for the flexibility of VAT department.”

Let’s see what he had to say today. Today, he tried to shield behind verbal jugglery inundating his response with technical (financial) terms saying – “FMs of all North Indian States decided that fuel prices should be at uniform rates to avoid geographical tax arbitrage and trade malpractices.”

Well, public doesn’t understand such jargons and people who have voted for the AAP (or for that matter any other political party or government) react negatively to such developments.

And it will reflect in elections. The AAP, due to its ignorance, may not gauge it in Punjab polls, but the outcome will certainly be humiliating in Delhi if this streak continues. Five years on electoral scale are not too long.

And such a ‘hostile to public sentiments’ move came on a day when the BJP led Union Government reduced prices of petrol and diesel by Rs. 2 throughout the country. That made the AAP’s shabby response sound even more hypocritical.

Totally indefensible and Manish Sisodia’s response only added to it – (tax rates on Petrol-Diesel are being rationalised in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, HP, Chandigarh & UP under unified tax policy. 1st time in North India.)

It may be first time in India – this rationalization as said by Manish Sisodia, Arvind Kejriwal’s right hand and Delhi’s deputy chief-minister, may be debatable – but the AAP’s fall from grace after February 14, 2015, when it took oath for the second time, has been, unfortunately, an uninterrupted show.

And the continuing advertising blitzkrieg, on public’s money, is only adding to it. The message such acts by the AAP government send that the government has not been able to raise money and is insensitively indulging in acts to finance its populist measures and its wasteful expenditures.

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

AAM AADMI IDEAL OF AAM AADMI PARTY IS DYING..

An Aam Aadmi Patry MLA (member of the legislative assembly, Delhi in this case) was detained today on charges of cheating and forgery. The AAP’s Kondli MLA Manoj Kumar was arrested on land-fraud charges on a day when its Punjab MP (member of the Parliament) openly criticised the senior party leader Sanjay Singh’s mobile phone message asking report cards from all four Punjab MPs.

AAP says Manoj Kumar is being harassed. His advocate and AAP leader HS Phoolka says his arrest is illegal. Sanjay Singh says Gujarat model is being used to harass AAP leaders in Delhi. Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan are trying to play ‘martyr’ card through their tweets.

And it is just the latest one in the line of fire – in the ongoing row that is besetting the newest political entrant in Indian politics.

Former Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar had to resign after police arrested him in fake degree case. The AAP chose to defend him even on the day he was arrested with party spokespersons waving documents submitted by Tomar as proof of his ‘truthfulness’. He is in jail now and police have reiterated the stand that his degree are fake, after taking him to the ‘educational institutions’ that he claimed he graduated from.

Another AAP MLA, Bhavna Gaur from Palam, is also under scanner for allegedly submitting false poll affidavit. The matter pertains to her educational qualification and a Delhi court has taken cognizance of the matter. The AAP’s Delhi Cantonment MLA Surender Singh is also facing similar allegations.

The Delhi BJP is also demanding immediate action against Akhileshpati Tripathi and Sanjeev Jha, two other AAP MLAs, for leading attack on Burari police station.

Then there are reports of alleged VIP culture. Taking forward the uncommon streak of the government that campaigned around the ‘commonness’ of the common man, the AAP government will bear expenditure of the offices of MLAs in all 70 constituencies including the manpower cost. Delhi Assembly is to bear the cost, so the ‘common man’ is to bear the cost.

‘Doing away with such existing demands’ would be the genuine common-man-type move. Or the AAP’s party funds, if available to the scale, could have been used.

The move immediately comes after the AAP MLAs demanded a salary hike and vehemently defended their demand (even if targeting others for similar moves). The AAP MLAs said they were not able to meet office expenses and asked for a rise.

There may be an element of truth in some cases but when we see the AAP’s history about such moves (and policies), the party loses any chance of getting the benefit of doubt.

The party made 21 of its 63 MLAs parliamentary secretaries, in the name of assisting ministers (minus seven – one chief-minister and six ministers). So many parliamentary secretaries in a government are ‘unprecedentedly’ unprecedented. When the controversial move reached to the court, the AAP government passed a resolution that declared these amenities to these so-called parliamentary secretaries (or MLAs) would be out of the purview of the ‘office of profit’ clause.

Then, there is the case of the Delhi Dialogue Commission. Manned by some AAP heavyweights, opponents allege that it is yet another front to squeeze public money in the name of ‘meeting party promises’. A report in the Asian Age says ‘salary, perks and allowances of some volunteers appointed in the DDC is said to be much higher than the MLAs’.

And the list doesn’t end here.

Such ‘uncommon-man-esque’ moves by a party claiming to be ‘of common men for common men’ give rise to the valid doubts that Arvind Kejriwal did all that, is doing all that, to appease his MLAs after throwing Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan out, to goad them away from the expelled duo who are also the founder-members of the party.

When the political opponents say that the AAP is doing everything but clean politics and honest governance, we have reasons to believe so.

Arvind Kejriwal and his government have been a big letdown in the first six months. This time, it didn’t touch sentimental issues like shunning VVIP culture in Delhi or following strict code of probity. It did offer water and electricity subsidies but the propaganda associated with it is overdone – was totally gaudy and in bad taste. Delhi is yet to see the pace of development that it had seen in the past few years.

A clean and honest government of common men for common men could have begun on a journey to initiate ‘uncommon’ moves for the betterment of Delhi but the AAP government failed Delhiites on that expectation. And the way ahead looks equally befuddled.

The AAP government, so far, has nothing much to talk about but it has given analysts more than enough food for thought to think about and write on its ‘fall from perceived grace’. And when we see it in the context of Arvind Kejriwal’s attempts to promote his ‘personality cult’ through different sorts of advertisements, funded by the public exchequer in Delhi, it all looks even more sinister.

Delhi needs a government that is on the job. Its common man, who has voted for Arvind Kejriwal and his party, needs his development that has to come with the overall development of Delhi. But Arvind Kejriwal is busy playing the games played by those he scoffed at. And he is outsmarting them. He is taking on Narendra Modi. He is in a bitter power struggle with Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung who is Central Government’s representative. He is talking of ‘referendum for full statehood to Delhi’ when there are more pressing issues of governance waiting for some attention by him. Six months into the government but there is no hurry about the Jan Lokpal Bill and no one in the AAP is talking appointing a Lokayukta in Delhi.

The irony is, the AAP is not ‘realizing it the way as the political folks don’t realize it’. It is thinking that it is above all political folks and can try anything after getting rarely high numbers in the Delhi assembly elections. The party thinks that the next Delhi polls are five years away and they are in a safe zone.

Well, founder-members have left it. It has internal bickering in many state units including in Punjab where elections are due in early 2017. And the party is in imminent threat of being converted into a one-man political outfit.

The Aam Aadmi ideal of the Aam Aadmi Party is dying and with it, the hopes of seeing ‘a politics of change’ has taken another beating.

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

AND ARVIND KEJRIWAL IS NO EXCEPTION..

Students of communication (or mass communication) are told the dictum in the very beginning of their coursework that ‘communication is power’.

Now how many of them assimilate is a matter of another debate but the ‘fact’ is becoming more ‘tactful’ for the political class as we are heading more into the times of political experiments.

And Arvind Kejriwal is no exception.

The ‘class’ believes communication can do anything. The ‘class’ believes communication can empower words and associated images to the extent of reality even if reality itself is non-existent. The ‘class’ increasingly believes in the ‘fact’ that it needs to spread its ‘words’ first. The action may or ‘may not’ follow. That is of least concern or of no concern. Yes, ‘action’ does have heightened ‘concern value’ during election times, but communication must have a ‘blitzkrieg’ sort of presence always.

And Arvind Kejriwal comes from this class.

So, Arvind Kejriwal has come up with a blitzkrieg sort of idea to enhance his governance’s and government’s visibility by enhancing his government’s communication (advertising) budget by some 22 times. It is true that the Aam Aadmi Party, the party that belongs to Arvind Kejriwal (and now Arvind Kejriwal only), shuns any wasteful expenditure – as its founding principle says. But those who are terming this as ‘wasteful’ increase are not seeing the underlying wisdom of Mr. Kejriwal.

Mr. Kejriwal and his party are on the way to do an innovative experiment. Apart from doing work to meet their electoral promises, they also want to see what happens if they don’t meet most of what they have promised. They can afford it as they are just beginning. It is still not five months yet from 14 February 2105 when there government was inaugurated again. And they have five years ahead. So, they can attract ‘some public wrath’ for the overall larger public good. (Yes, such altruism, some selflessness is rare.)

Also, after the ‘class metamorphosis’ of the AAP is complete, it has to do certain damage control exercises.

First, it doesn’t share good relations with media. Media outfits say he is acting like them who happened to be his ‘stated reasons to enter politics to cleanse it’. Now, media is not going to change its view until and unless something groundbreaking happens.

But in order to do something groundbreaking, Kejriwal first needs to experience all political grounds – good, bad, ugly, controversial, appreciative, etc. – and it may lead to negative reporting against him.

And therefore, Kejriwal has taken the task of experiencing controversial ground after his initial offers from Delhi’s coffers to subsidize water and electricity, even if it is giving rise to his increasing criticism.

Kejriwal will weather it, like the ‘class’ usually does in such cases. Yes, to cushion his party members – and the three year old party – with many of its ‘prominent’ members from media – Kejriwal has come with a respite – by increasing the advertising budget – from 24 crore to 526 crore – that is probably largest, many times of many states, for a state government in India – for spreading the word about Delhi government’s good intent – that is evident from his and his ministers’ words – action will follow – as the Delhi government promises.

Yes, media and political opponents will criticise the move citing negative points like the huge increase, like wastage of taxpayer’s money, like no real work on ground, like taxpayer’s money being splurged on practice like spreading the word about the government’s work when there is nothing much to talk about, like the controversy around violating the Supreme Court’s order on political advertisements, like reneging on its poll promises, like diverting funds from development works to fund expenditures like this and so on.

But this Delhi government would take all that. After all, after becoming so uncommon, Kejriwal’s next aim is to make every common man think ‘uncommon’ – the way he has made the AAP think and decide on its future political course of action.

Yes, communication is power and he has initiated ‘tactfully’ with the formal process to live this ‘fact’.

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

NOW WHO WILL BUY IT? NO ONE. EXCEPT AAP.

Well, today was another step in the ‘unravelling’ saga of the uncommon common man Arvind Kejriwal and his uncommon ‘common men’ party, the Aam Aadmi Party.

After presenting a budget that was not innovative enough to the promises he had made while he was asking for votes (apart from hiking budgetary allocation on education), his government today hiked the upper limit on the Value Added Tax (VAT) in Delhi by 10%.

That gives the Delhi government, led by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, flexibility to ‘manoeuvre”. Now, what will they ‘manoeuvre’, only they know. On its part, the government is saying the move is not about ‘price increase’.

Now who will buy it?

No one.

Except the AAP.

And there are reasons behind it.

In the run-up to the elections, the AAP announced many populist sops including free Wi-Fi, schools, hospitals, free water and low electricity tariff. The overall list is long and beyond scalable limits. Even Arvind Kejriwal admitted, after winning the absolute majority, that he was not looking at fulfilling ‘all the promises’ he had made.

Now, all that requires money and Kejriwal has already started the process, by subsidizing electricity and water. There are no innovative proposals to raise more money to fund these ‘populist measures’ but empty rhetoric like the one Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister, proposed today. His ‘common sense’ wisdom told us today that a common Delhiite was able to save some money (in thousands) thanks to his government’s anti-corruption efforts.

So, the ‘common’ Delhiites have more monetary resources to meet the ends now – with the AAP’s grace. That eases some of the burden of the populist promises. For others, some that the government wants to meet in light of the upcoming polls, with continuation of the most populist measures like subsidies of water and electricity, there are flexible ‘manoeuvrability’ measures like the one proposed today.

No one is buying the government’s arguments and reports have already started saying that prices are to set to increase after the AAP government hiked the upper limit of the VAT from 20% to 30%.

On the contrary, the first policy move of the government post ‘Swaraj’ budget is set to increase prices of cooking fuels and fuel oils. That will have a cascading effect on other items for sure – as another ‘common sense’ wisdom says.

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