Garbage dumpsites in Mayur Vihar are overflowing with waste, blocking one half of an arterial road in the bustling east Delhi neighbourhood. As sedans pass with their windows rolled up, pedestrians cringe at the stench while animals rummage through the rotting wastes.
Contract workers under the cash-strapped East Delhi Municipal Corporation haven’t cleaned the toxic heap because they haven’t been paid, despite promises by chief minster Arvind Kejriwal, whose government is lurching from one controversy to another.
“While poor people are protesting against non-payment of salaries and we are suffering from the stench and unhygienic conditions, Kejriwal is busy in controversies. He should see as to who gets paid and who not,” said Tukaram Yadav, a rickshaw-puller, as he cycles past a stinking garbage deposit pinching his nose in disgust.
Since sweeping to power in February, the Kejriwal government has been locked in a bitter turf war with Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung, who represents the Centre and wields substantial administrative power.
The political slugfest reached a new low earlier this week after Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested for allegedly faking his law degree, a move described as “politics of vendetta” by the Kejriwal government.
Analysts say the continuing political recriminations between the AAP government and Delhi lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung belie the hopes that millions of voters placed in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, undermining governance in the city-state.
What rickshaw-puller Yadav thinks about the AAP’s ongoing political tug-of-war with the central government echoes with that of Sikandar Kumar, a tea-stall owner, whose stall is right next to a stinking garbage dump in Mayur Vihar.
“During campaigning Kejriwal had made a lot of promises for the betterment of the poor. But where is that voice now? It seems he is only busy in fighting political battles with Modi government,” says Kumar.
On the other hand, a section of Delhi’s working class sees the tussle as fallout of the BJP’s inability to stomach its decisive loss in the Delhi elections earlier this year.
“The central government run by the BJP will never allow Kejriwal to work. We all understand that. It will create barricades. But we know that Kejriwal’s intentions are good and he wants to do stuff. He has to somehow find his way,” says Manoj Sharma, a garage owner in East Delhi.
Others agree but fear that the political slug-fest will eventually alienate Kejriwal from the very people who gave him a historic mandate.
“It’s an open secret that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Delhi unit president Satish Upadhyay want to create difficulties in the functioning of the AAP government. Knowing this, Kejriwal should have been more diplomatic, tactful and dignified in his political steps, instead of continuing with a kind of political street-fight” said N Bhaskara Rao, founder–chairman of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS).
“Kejriwal has to focus on serving the people of Delhi better. People have been expecting a lot from him. They are not expecting that from L-G or Modi.”
There appears to be a growing feeling that the AAP government was more concerned in raking up political fights with the centre than concentrating on governance, said Sudha Pai, a professor of political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“As Kejriwal goes on creating controversies, one doesn’t see any work done,” said Pai.