The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has suffered a humiliating loss in by-election for Rajouri Garden Assembly constituency in Delhi. The ruling party was relegated to the third spot as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the seat while the Congress ended up as the first runner-up. The AAP candidate lost his deposit. The by-election result has certainly served a big blow to AAP's prospects of winning the upcoming MCD polls scheduled for April 23.
AAP's performance comes as stark contrast to its 2015-election performance when the party had secured 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly.
The AAP came to power in Delhi in 2015 winning the election on issues like women's safety and corruption. It had promised to a clean, garbage-free, safe and a better Delhi. Reduction in water, electricity charges was the highlight of the party's election manifesto.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR AAP
After more than two years of rule, the popular perception about the AAP is that it has become just another political party in the country. The same aam aadmi who gave the AAP an astounding mandate thinks that the party leadership indulges in political mud-slinging and looks for excuses for its non-performance.
The 'euphoria' that surrounded Arvind Kejriwal has, now, waned. Kejriwal's two-and-half-year rule in Delhi is highlighted by his frequent squabbles with former Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and accusation against the Narendra Modi government for not letting him to work.
While the people of Delhi expected Arvind Kejriwal to transform their city into a world class metropolis, Chief Minister Kejriwal was mostly seen busy levelling allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and almost every other leader, who did not speak his language.
Kejriwal's latest attack on the Election Commission after AAP's loss in Punjab Assembly poll has not gone down well with the people. Many take his allegation about tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) by the BJP as an excuse for his party's defeat.
After the Nirbhaya gangrape incident of 2012, women's safety topped the government's priority list in Delhi. Kejriwal built AAP's election strategy on the women's safety issue. He squarely blamed the then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for crimes against women.
Posters of Kejriwal accusing Sheila Dikshit, of doing nothing to address the safety concerns of women in Delhi, were all over the place ahead of 2013-Assembly election. Kejriwal promised to deploy a marshal in every bus plying on city roads.
Nothing of that sort has happened till date. Kejriwal put the blame on the Centre saying Delhi Police was not under his control. Incidentally, exactly four years after the Nirbhaya incident, another girl was raped inside a moving car bearing Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sticker.
The AAP had also promised to build toilets in backward areas of Delhi but not much progress was visible on this front either.
The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data clearly reveals that crime rate in Delhi has risen. As per the NCRB data, 927 incidents of child rapes reported in Delhi in 2015. Clearly, the indirect measures that Kejriwal had promised were either not enough or not implemented by his government in more than two years of rule.
DELHI IS NATIONAL CAPITAL, REALLY?
Delhi hardly fits the image of the national capital of the largest democracy of the world. Barring the Lutyen's Delhi, filth, garbage, potholes and patches to fill those potholes on the roads are a common sight.
Areas like Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi and localities like Shahdara and Seelampur in Northeast Delhi are still battling with massive congestion on roads and garbage. Kejriwal government and MCD have blamed each-other for 'dirty Delhi'.
"It has become difficult to stay here. The RWA hardly visits the area to clean the garbage. Kids are falling sick," says Preeti, who stays in East Delhi's Preet Vihar area.
Debris at ITO.
Garbage dumped at Nizamuddin railway station. Photo by @nivedita0505
During the Assembly elections in 2013 and 2015, AAP promised free water, cheap electricity and free WiFi. It worked well for the AAP as it found a groundswell for the party in 2015.
Kejriwal government delivered on water and electricity. Water is free upto 20,000 litres per month and electricity rates have not been increased. However, the promise of free-WiFi is still to be realised.
The AAP has promised to do away with house tax if it wins the MCD elections. But, there is not much enthusiasm about AAP's promise this time.
DELHI IS STILL THE MOST POLLUTED CITRY
Before forming the government in Delhi, Kejriwal had blamed the Congress for not framing right policies to reduce pollution in the city.
Kejriwal government implemented odd-even formula. The latter reports suggested that the road-rationing scheme of the government helped smoothen the chaotic traffic in Delhi, but pollution levels remained as these were earlier.
On the top of it, Kejriwal blamed the neighbouring states and their farmers for increasing pollution in Delhi.
ADMISSION IN A PRIVATE SCHOOL
Nursery admission is another area where Delhi government's role is significant. AAP accused the Congress of encouraging private schools and neglecting quality of education in the government ones.
Though, credit must go the Kejriwal government for not allowing the private schools to increase fees as they used to do earlier, admission still remains an uphill task for parents.
Worried parents can still be seen running from pillar to post for their child's admission. Rajiv Sharma, father of a 3-year-old girl said, "Admission in a private school is still a business. The admission is done on the basis of points."
"My daughter had 75 points and I failed to get her into the school of our choice. The sad part is that there were 6-7 seats vacant after all lists are out. The school authorities refused to admit my daughter. What does this mean? Are they asking money for the seats indirectly? Where is the government," asks Rajiv.
The problems of Delhi stay the same way as they used to during Sheila Dikshit government. This means a greater challenge for the AAP ahead of the MCD elections.
AAP leader Kumar Vishwas' tweet summed up the party's state in Delhi. "There is still time for the party leadership to think, introspect," Vishwas said soon after the loss in Rajouri Garden bypoll.
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Dr Kumar Vishvas (@DrKumarVishwas) April 13, 2017