This Article is From May 26, 2015

AAPs 100 Days Limited To Shrill Confrontation

Destiny sometimes rewards exceptionally. Thereafter, the focus shifts to the beneficiary and what is made of the opportunity offered.

In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP had a blitzkrieg of a mandate in February by winning all but three of 70 seats in the Assembly. During electioneering, AAP made specific promises with offers to different segments of society. Key promises included installing 15 lakh CCTV cameras to improve women's safety, building 500 new schools to solve the crisis of admissions, creating 900 new Primary Health Centers and adding 30,000 beds in Delhi's hospitals, among many others.

The first 100 days of the AAP in government are now over. The easiest part, of doling out subsidised water and electricity, have been implemented. Where the funds to maintain machinery and mechanisms will come from is not clear. Another populist promise of free Wi-Fi in public spaces across Delhi is said to be on the cards in the near future. What effect that will have on safety and security, with free porn available to watch for idle youth at every street corner, is yet to be even considered.

No doubt a section of the voters are delighted. Others are apprehensive about whether the rest of his manifesto promises were merely a chimera to garner votes or an agenda for actual implementation. These require planning, and sustained effort to deliver them on the ground.

The magnitude of implementing these promises is particularly easy for Mr Kejriwal to calculate. He is, after all an IIT alumnus and former Indian Revenue Services officer. Assuming the first six months as an introductory period of settling in, and setting aside the last six months for elections in 2019, the AAP government has exactly four years or 48 months to implement their agenda.

15 lakh CCTV cameras translate into 31,250 CCTVs needing to be installed every month - or over 1, 000 every day. Additionally, systems and monitoring staff to manage this mega project are required. Approximately 10 new schools, 19 Primary Health Centres and 625 additional hospital beds also need to be added every month if AAP wants to keep its word.

The calculations for building 2 lakh toilets across Delhi (about 1.5 lakh toilets in slums and clusters and 50,000 toilets in public area) and ensuring every village has a school and hospital without forcible land acquisition are no less challenging tasks to implement.

So far there is no indication of progress on these mega promises. Instead, the AAP has continued with a preference for shifting the focus from work through allegations and defamatory statements against one and all whom they perceive their enemy, within the party or externally.  

The latest controversy concerns an interpretation on who controls the transfer and posting of central government officials in Delhi. Legal opinions are available backing both the Lieutenant Governor (and the Central Government) on one side, and the Chief Minister on the other. Perhaps the AAP will take the issue to the Supreme Court for a final word. A special session of the State Assembly has also been called on the issue.

In the meanwhile, Mr Kejriwal need not forget that no one is preventing him from transferring thousands of other officers who are not from the central services like the IAS and IPS.

Team Kejriwal is within its rights to pick the political issues it wishes to confront. However, that cannot be a convenient escape route to shift focus from what the AAP government has promised to deliver. Perhaps he could also look for lessons from the track record of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which has implemented mega schemes. In less than eight months, 15 crore new bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana or PMJDY programme (that's nearly 19 lakh accounts per month or 6,25,000 accounts per day).

Since its launch on May 10, over 7 crore people have signed up for the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (accident insurance cover for Rs 2 lakh at Rs 12 per annum) and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Scheme (Rs 2 lakh insurance policy at Rs 330 per annum). The third scheme, Atal Pension Yojana, also progresses. Evidently, the challenge of financial inclusion, social security and insurance cover for marginalised Indians is already on the path to delivery. These are but a few successes of Narendra Modi's government.

The BJP has publically accepted responsibility to be judged on the delivery of its 2014 manifesto at the end of its tenure. The question is whether Team Kejriwal is courageous enough to be judged on the implementation of their manifesto and promises.

So far, Team Kejriwal, regretfully, has consistently displayed a marked preference for a shrill campaign of confrontation and allegations instead of responsible governance. Here's where one recalls Abraham Lincoln sage comment - "You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time."

(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also an advocate and has extensive experience in media and education.)

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