The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has declared war against a proposed power tariff hike in Madhya Pradesh, hoping to reap electoral benefits from an issue which catapulted Arvind Kejriwal to power in Delhi.
The Kejriwal-led AAP had successfully wooed voters in the national capital with a promise of lowering power tariff, one of its major campaign points, and later slashed rates within weeks of being voted to power with an overwhelming mandate.
Though assembly polls in the state are not due till 2018, the party has made an early start and seems to have stolen a march over other parties in raising an issue that strikes a chord with the common man.
Power companies in the state have proposed a hike in eletricity tariff and proposals have been submitted to the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC).
First, AAP workers collected 1 lakh “objections” to the proposed hike and handed over the same to the MPERC.
On March 19, the party organised protests across the state followed by a meeting on April 12 at Iqbal Maidal here, where as many as 3 lakh signatures against the power hike proposal, were collected and handed over to the state government.
AAP leaders pointed out that per capita income in Madhya Pradesh was less than 1/3rd compared to Delhi but power tariff was more than that in the national capital.
Earlier, when the MPERC conducted a public hearing where people gave their representation against the proposed hike, scores of AAP workers had reached the venue and handed over their objections to the MPERC.
AAP state convenor Alok Agarwal said that power tariff is an issue that concerns every citizen, and there is no basis for increasing it in the state.
"Already electricity tariff is too high in MP. It should be brought down," he said.
Agarwal said that in case power tariff is increased, it would be just to provide benefits to the power companies, and the AAP would take to the streets.