Capital conquered, but major challenges await new government

  • Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2015 00:45 IST

The Aam Aadmi Party’s unprecedented landslide victory in Delhi guarantees stability but it also brings for the new government major challenges including pressures to meet people’s expectations.

With such a massive mandate, it will have to go much beyond merely reducing power bills and providing free water or legislating its flagship bills to decentralise power and check corruption.

The party has promised to fight for full statehood to Delhi. For this to happen both the Centre and the state government need to be on the same page. The party has promised 20 new colleges, 2 lakh public toilets and 47 fast-track courts, 5,000 new buses, 8 lakh jobs, 30,000 hospital beds and free WiFi across the city.

These will require huge budgets, land that is controlled by the centre and involve issues of viability. “Thanks for the unprecedented victory. But it’s (the huge mandate) very scary,” Delhi’s next chief minister Arvind Kejriwal admitted.

But there is hope. PM Narendra Modi, who launched attacks on Kejriwal during campaigning, congratulated him and said he would work with him for Delhi’s development. Union urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu seconded Modi.

Many found AAP’s first innings was marked by sit-ins, conflicts with public utilities and a power struggle with the Centre. Will that change? “I fail to understand why media projects that we took to streets, willingly and happily. We did it when a woman was burnt alive and police refused to act,” said AAP leader Manish Sisodia.

AAP feels Kejriwal has the personality to ensure good governance as well as protest for something that is in the interest of the people. Sisodia said the focus would be on providing a trustworthy government that will make Delhi India’s first corruption-free city. “We will fulfil the needs of the people,” he said.

The first thing the party plans to take up is cutting electricity cost and ordering an audit of power companies, said party leader and policy expert Atishi Marlena. This time around, however, the party is looking at permanent solutions. The other two poll promises the party intends to attend to on priority are women’s security and free WiFi. “These two promises were very important for the party. CCTV cameras and marshals in buses might be among the first few things the party takes on,” Marlena said.

But has AAP promised more than it can accomplish? “We have spent months speaking to experts. We know how to implement these ideas,” party leader Ashish Khetan said.

The promotion of former Apple executive Adarsh Shashtri, who won from Dwarka, signals a subtle move to have a good blend of competent professionals with politically viable people, especially when AAP is looking to shift from an anti-corruption brigade to a party offering WiFi and CCTV networks.

(With inputs from Mallica Joshi)

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