Financial crunch and corruption are cited as the major reasons for the prevailing condition in municipal corporations but it is fast becoming evident that the political stakes of ruling parties precipitated the crisis even as the civic workers’ strike entered its ninth day on Thursday.
Even the bailout package announced by the Aam Aadmi Party government failed to break the ice with the civic workers who demanded a ‘permanent’ solution to the problems plaguing the civic bodies. The MCD workers have boycotted work for the fourth time in the past one year.
The political overtones were not lost on Wednesday when chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the bailout package for the civic bodies. Kejriwal warned of similar issues cropping up again in the future “only till AAP was not elected to power in the civic bodies”.
The statement comes close on the heels of the chief minister demanding the Centre to dissolve the municipal corporations and hold fresh elections as the present dispensation led by the BJP has “failed to run the MCDs”.
“Management of an organisation which can’t pay salaries to employees, doesn’t hv rt to continue. MCD shud be dissolved. Hold fresh elections (sic.),” Kejriwal had tweeted last week after the MCD strike started.
Other AAP leaders have gone on record in the past suggesting the BJP has failed the MCDs and the civic bodies should be brought under the Delhi government, as is the case in other states. Municipal polls are due early next year.
While employees of the three municipal corporations have joined the strike, the North and East corporations are the only two which have been facing financial crunch post trifurcation in 2012. Barring few areas falling under the North and East DMC, the areas in North and trans-Yamuna areas are dominated by unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters--areas where AAP has maximum groundswell of support.
Watch | MCD workers protest by ‘corpse procession’ in Delhi’s Geeta Colony
Three of the six ministers in the Arvind Kejriwal Cabinet are from east Delhi, besides Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel. All of these leaders have been targeted by the protesters during this strike, with sanitation workers dumping garbage outside their residence and offices.
Government sources said the AAP government stepped down from their stated position of not offering any financial assistance further only after the High Court deferred its decision on the MCD issue for another ten days on Tuesday.
“The government was expecting a decision, and possibly that would have pinned down the blames on the civic bodies. In a similar standoff over funds for dengue prevention, the court has directed that while the government would provide more funds, its spending would be monitored by the state government. With the court not pronouncing its verdict, the government was forced to announce a bailout package,” an official said.