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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

Jaitley's populist budget keeps Delhi guessing

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 19, 2014
First Published: 00:43 IST(19/7/2014) | Last Updated: 08:35 IST(19/7/2014)

Delhi may not have an elected government but the city budget tabled in Parliament on Friday had all the makings of a vote-catcher, triggering speculation that the BJP may be gearing up for fresh assembly elections.

The city has been without an elected government for five months and the assembly is under suspended animation. The BJP is believed to be firming up plans to take a shot at forming the government by weaning away Congress and Aam Aadmi Party MLAs.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s proposals to provide power subsidy, set up water ATMs and improve infrastructure in unauthorised colonies is seen as an attempt to address Capital’s key political issues.

Read: Power subsidy, no new taxes in Jaitley's Rs. 36,776-crore Delhi budget

Read: Delhi budget - Makings of a pol(l)tical potboiler

The Friday’s budget is continuation of Jaitley’s last week announcements in the union budget in which he allocated Rs. 700 crore to improve Delhi’s power transmission and water distribution system.

Power and water along with high prices were the main issues on which the last year’s assembly elections were fought on.

The Delhi budget will come in handy for the BJP if elections are called in the Capital.

The party won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the city and led in 60 of the 70 assembly segments.

Read: Crucial budget spells hope for BJP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) though couldn’t register a win, it gave the BJP a stiff competition, finishing a close second in all seats. Its vote share also rose considerably from the 2013 assembly elections.

Observers feel that food inflation and hike in rail and fuel prices has dented the BJP’s image. Many of the BJP MLAs have apprised the leadership of the ground situation, saying these could work against party if fresh elections are held. 

Power subsidy for the poor and middle class -- the BJP’s core constituency -- new hospitals, funds for civic amenities in slums and public transport would help repair the damage, feels the party.

“It is a people-centric budget as no new tax proposals have been announced. At the same time, major problems of Delhi -- power, water, unauthorised colonies and security of women -– have been addressed,” Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said.

Read: BJP betrayed people’s trust: AAP

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