Kejriwal working on core issues affecting the common man; BJP struggling to find ways to corner him
New Delhi, March 28 (Delhi Crown): The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is yet to turn ten, and it has already captured two states in north India, matching the over 100 years old Indian National Congress (INC), and posing a serious challenge/threat to the world’s ‘biggest party’ – the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Already, AAP is in the mood to aggressively expand its base in two northern states – Haryana and Rajasthan, besides the western state Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Gujarat and Himachal go to polls later this year, Rajasthan next year, and Haryana in 2024.
How AAP is able to make its presence felt in so many states in such a short span of time? The answer perhaps lies in the unique “Kejriwal model of Governance”, focusing on strengthening the core sector like education, health, water and overall infrastructure.
Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia presented his eighth Budget two days ago. Despite providing free power, water, education and health infrastructure, it was a surplus budget. Unbelievable!
Termed as “Rozgar Budget”, Sisodia gave a Delhi Budget for 2022-23 of a whopping Rs 75,800 crores promising 20 lakh jobs in 5 years. He said 12 lakhs jobs were already generated in the national capital by the AAP government.
Rs 16,278 crores (22% of total budget) have been allocated to Education sector, Rs 9,769 crores (13%) for Health sector, Rs 9,539 crores (12.5%) for transport, roads and bridges, Rs 7,610 for water supply and sanitation, etc.
The budget size for the next financial year is 9.86% higher than that of the current year i.e. Rs 69,000 crores.
In his budget speech, Sisodia said that the Kejriwal govt.’s target was to increase the percentage of the working population of Delhi from the current 33% to 45% in the next five years. “That is, out of the total population of 1 crore 68 lakh people of Delhi, these 56 lakhs people who do some employment at present, we will have to increase their number to 76 lakhs,” he stated.
According to him, “Rozgar Bazaar 2.0” will be launched with an aim to provide at least one lakh jobs every year to the youngsters of Delhi, especially women. “An electronic city will be set up at Baprola to create 80,000 jobs by attracting big IT companies,” promised the Delhi’s Finance Minister while presenting the budgetary proposals.
He also announced that smart urban farming will be promoted and turned into a mass movement in association with the Pusa Institute, adding that “25,000 new jobs are expected to be created”.
Despite being battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kejriwal government’s last year budget had a revenue surplus of Rs 1271 crores. Revenue surplus for 2020-21 was targeted at Rs 7,239 crore, 23% lower than the revised estimate of 2019-20.
The revised revenue surplus for 2019-20 of Rs 9,354 crore was 79% higher than the budgeted estimate. Fiscal deficit for the year 2020-21 was targeted at Rs 5,080 crores. In 2019-20, the revised figures estimated a fiscal surplus of Rs 523 crores, as compared to the budgeted estimate of Rs 5,902 crore fiscal deficit.
Thus, the “Kejriwal model of governance” seems to be working on the principle of working on core areas, like generating employment and addressing the common man’s woes by providing free power, water, education and health facilities.
BJP seems to struggling to find issues to corner Kejriwal
On the other hand, the main opposition party in Delhi – the BJP seems to be struggling to find issues on which it could attack the AAP in a bid to unseat the Kejriwal government and re-install itself.
For the past six months the BJP was hellbent on cornering the AAP government over the new Excise Policy by organising state-wide protests, blaming Kejriwal for turning Delhi into a “Sharaab ki Nagri” by allowing private liquors to be opened in every nook and corner of the city.
Kejriwal argued that the number of liquor-vends had actually been cut down from over 850 to 550. “What we have done is to equally distribute the number of liquor vends across the city, unlike earlier when some parts didn’t have any liquor shops and alcohol was being sold illegally in those areas,” he maintained in a TV interview a couple of days ago.
Of late, the issue of Excise Policy seems to have taken a back seat in BJP’s scheme of things for attacking the Kejriwal government.
Late last month, when the city was preparing for MCD Polls (which are uncertain now) the BJP haplessly organised a protest at Rajghat over Kejriwal “hobnobbing with Khalistanis” as alleged famous poet and AAP-founder member Kumar Vishwas.
The protest eventually turned to be a faux pas. The issue of Kejriwal being ‘close’ to country’s separatists (Khalistanis) faded away at a pace greater than at which it was “made up” by the BJP’s karyakartas!
Now, of late, the BJP is playing up with his new-found issue, that of Kashmiri Pandits. Delhi’s main opposition party has been demanding of the Kejriwal government to declare the movie “The Kashmir Files” tax-free as done by most BJP-ruled states.
Avoiding the demand, Kejriwal put forth his argument– “The Kashmir Files may be important for the BJP, for me the Kashmir Pandits are important”.
In a TV interview, he said the BJP was in power at the Centre from 1998 till 2004 and now since 2014, “why they didn’t do anything for the rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits back in their hometowns in Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The Kashmir Files movie might be important for the BJP, but for me the Kashmiri Pandits are important. I had regularised as many as 233 Kashmiri Pandit teachers in the Delhi government retrospectively since 1993 when they had joined as Guest teachers. Why couldn’t the BJP do it whenever it was in power in Delhi over the past 30 years,” Kejriwal said.
He added – “Today had I been there running the Central Government, I wouldn’t have made or promoted a film like they are doing. I would have held the hands of the Kashmiri Pandits who are living a life of refugees, and taken them back to their hometowns and rehabilitated them back in Kashmir.”
“You ask the Kashmiri Pandits if they want The Kashmir Files movie, or their rehabilitation,” said Kejriwal, and added – “It’s wrong to interpret that I and my partymen laughed at the Kashmiri Pandits. It’s a propaganda of the BJP. We actually laughed at the way the BJP leaders are busy in promoting this movie.”
Responding to a question as to why he had not yet declared The Kashmir Files movies tax-free, Kejriwal said – “I don’t think it’s fair that some people are doing politics over the Kashmiri Pandits and earning crores of Rupees at their misery. There is a need to help those homeless Kashmiri Pandits, to take them back to their hometowns in Jammu and Kashmir and rehabilitate them there, not simply make a film on them.”
He also stated in the interview that he wasn’t against the movie per se, but he was against the way the BJP is promoting the film. “I want to know what did the BJP do in the past eight years,” he said and added that – “Let’s stop doing politics over Kashmiri Pandits and do something for rehabilitating them back in Kashmir.”
The Delhi CM further stated that his party (AAP) will support the Central Government if it takes an initiative towards rehabilitating the Kashmiri Pandits back in Kashmir.