The Aam Admi Party (AAP) won a landslide victory in Delhi in 2015 because people were disgusted with the other parties and wanted a radical change. Its leader Arvind Kejriwal projected himself as an epitome of honesty, a modern Moses, a Superman who will lead Delhi into a land of milk and honey. But his popularity started to rapidly decline as people started seeing the reality. He has no solutions to the problems facing the people — massive poverty, unemployment, lack of healthcare and good education, etc.
Also people are disillusioned by his dictatorial mentality when he sacked the co-founders of AAP and surrounded himself with chamchas, allocated Rs 536 crore for his self-promoting ads and increased salaries for his MLAs. Seeing his popularity decline he has now resorted to headline-grabbing gimmicks like car-free day, going on a bicycle, lokpal (which many people called jokepal), and now the odd-even scheme.
Unfortunately most people of Delhi, as elsewhere, are gullible and emotional and dutifully follow any Sapnon ka Saudagar, the way at one time they followed Anna Hazare.
But this will not last long. Public opinion is fickle, like the Roman mob at Caesar’s funeral, which was earlier against Caesar, but changed its attitude after one short speech of Mark Antony. The Kejriwal bubble will sooner or later burst, like a Ponzi scheme. In the first few days of the odd-even scheme Delhiites were enthusiastically supporting it, but now they are following it out of fear of being challaned.
But how long can this last? The Delhi High Court has already voiced its concern about the enormous difficulties being faced by Delhiites due to the scheme. People have to go for work every day. For instance, a lawyer has to go to court every day as do doctors, other professionals, shopkeepers etc. And as regards the public transportation system, in London one has to walk for only five to ten minutes from any place to reach the nearest metro station, but in several places in Delhi one has to take a taxi to reach a metro station. And the metros are overcrowded.
As regards pollution in Delhi, it has not gone down, as several media reports indicate. In fact an IIT Kanpur report says that only 1% of the total air pollution is due to cars, the rest is due to two wheelers, dust, industrial pollution, burning of fodder by farmers in Haryana, etc.
So the scheme will be abandoned after two weeks (though no doubt after declaring it a grand success), as it will become dangerous to continue it any further due to public hostility and anger. Thereafter, Kejriwal will look for some other stunt or caper.
Markandey Katju is a former judge, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are personal.