As the Delhi government completes one in year in office, Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia talks to HT about his government’s hits, misses and plans.
The government is completing one year this Sunday. How has journey been?
It has been full of struggle but satisfying on the delivery front. We never assumed people who are in power for personal gains would allow us to work freely. We are surprised at the levels to which the political opponents have stooped. Still we have delivered on several fronts.
What have been the major achievements?
About 24-25 lakh residents are getting power at half the rate. Despite the fact that 9-10 lakh people are getting free water, the DJB augmented its revenue by R178 crore. The metered water connection map has been expanded. People are now able to get their certificates issued online. Government schools and hospitals are getting better.
What do you think have been the major misses?
We couldn’t curb corruption at the lower level after the ACB was taken away from us. Corruption at upper level has been eradicated completely but some incidents keep cropping up at the lower level. One person was recently caught in the excise department. Had the ACB been with us, we would have plugged such cases completely.
The year has seen a constant fight between the Delhi and central govts. What is the main reason?
The reason is obvious. History proves people used to enter politics for power and money. That is not the case with the AAP government. So all such people are worried that their shops would get shut. Hence they are making all efforts to ensure this experiment of honest politics fails.
Has this fight become political? The Delhi municipal and Punjab polls are around. Has this become a fight between two popular personalities in the country?
This question should be asked to the people who are getting CBI raids conducted in the Delhi CM’s office. Why did they not allow the ACB to work? If they actually are honest politicians, then why is an honest government being targeted. We didn’t pick this fight. But it will not happen that they capture the Delhi government’s ACB and we take it hands down. People have not given us the historic mandate to do so.
How do you answer critics who say the AAP government did not come up with any major infrastructure projects unlike those witnessed during the past decade?
I pity people whose definition of infrastructure is restricted to flyovers. Aren’t 8,000 new rooms and 25 new school buildings infrastructure projects? How do you define the increase in the number of beds in hospitals. Tapped water reached colonies that had been waiting for over past two decades. I am shocked with the understanding of economy and development of those who think only constructing flyover defines infrastructure.
The Opposition claims the overall expenditure of plan funds has been less this fiscal?
Yes. It is because we have saved money by completing projects by spending less than the estimated budget. We saved money by plugging the loopholes. People are happy with it but the opposition is unhappy.
You have been filling in for the chief minister when he is away. He would be away regularly due to the Punjab campaign. Am I speaking to the soon-to-be-CM of Delhi?
You are speaking to the deputy CM of Delhi. And the chief minister has put me on the job with a vision that I look after the overall co-ordination in the government besides handling few important departments. Probably he sensed it very early that corrupt people would come after the AAP government. He is being able to give them a better fight because the CM is free from day-to-day governance, which I and my Cabinet colleagues are handling.
Is your current innings a semi-final of sorts before you take over, especially when speculation is ripe that Arvind Kejriwal could move to Punjab?
This question is part of guess journalism. You are free to do that.