The first ever ‘Janta ka budget’ consultations saw good response, especially in the lower middle class areas of the Patparganj constituency.
Residents of all three mohalla sabhas in the constituency seemed happy at being made part of the process, even though some were a little cynical about the process.
The first batch of the participatory budget was organized in three venues-west Vinod Nagar, Sanjay Jheel and pocket-F in Mayur Vihar phase II.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal attended the first session of the meeting to take public suggestions on the budget.
Addressing the meeting, Kejriwal explained the concepts of the participatory budgeting exercise to the people and said that this first of a kind practice will ensure that the public money is used for their welfare.
AAP had promised Swaraj, in its election manifesto and this exercise in “participatory budgeting” is seen as the first test of its plan, party members said.
Many people who attended the participatory budget commended the government’s effort to include public opinion in budget formulation but some were skeptical of the idea.
“This is for the first time that someone has listened to us and asked us what we want. The entire area gets flooded routinely because there are no sewer lines. That is our priority,” said Sita Devi, a resident of Mahatma Gandhi Camp in the Sanjay Jheel area.
Others were unhappy that the number of people who participated was less.
“Out of thousands of residents only a few hundreds have decided to turn up but does that mean that their opinions do not matter? This is hardly ‘participatory’ but ‘representative’. The government should have involved the Resident Welfare Associations who are in close contact with the residents of each area and who know their problems well,” said Manohar Lal, a retired government employee who is a resident of pocket-A, Mayur Vihar phase II.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who represents Patparganj in the assembly, said the people of Delhi would prepare their own budget and asked the people to vote on what work needed to be done.
“Vote for the projects you think need to be done by raising your hand. You might have raised your hands earlier for praising the leaders but now it is the time you raise your hands for yourselves,” he said.
At the venues, separate enclosures were made for the guests and special invitees, the voters and the visitors. At Sanjay Jheel, the entry for the three was also separate. At this block, however, Sisodia asked the organizers to remove the barricades that separated the voters from the government officials.