Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claimed its “first victory” on Sunday when Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit received almost 10.5 lakh letters by Delhiites protesting against inflated power and water bills.
But the efforts of the party at a show of strength through a rally from Jantar Mantar - where they had been camping since morning - to Dikshit’s residence on Motilal Nehru Marg were thwarted as Dikshit agreed to accept the letters.
AAP had collected these letters from across Delhi during Kejriwal’s fast at Sundar Nagari as part of a civil disobedience movement from March 23 to April 6.
Kejriwal and other AAP leaders were hoping to recreate an April 1 like situation when their rally of autorickshaws was stopped midway from reaching Dikshit’s residence, leading to a huge traffic jam and a lot of drama.
On Sunday, even when Dikshit asked a few AAP members to come over to deliver the letters, Kejriwal said they would continue to hold the agitation. Jantar Mantar saw a huge turnout - police estimate was about 3,000 people - comprising AAP volunteers and party supporters, most of them sporting a white cap with ‘Mujhe Lokpal Chahiye’, ‘Mujhe Swaraj Chahiye’ and ‘Main Aam Aadmi Hoon’ written on them.
Kejriwal first exposed how about 3 lakh faulty water metres installed were causing inflated bills. Holding a metre in his hand, Kejriwal demonstrated how air blown into it led to reading and then said: “People of Delhi are not paying for water consumed but also for air.” Neetu Gupta, a housewife who came from Ashok Nagar with her entire family, said, “We are here to strengthen AAP. I am sure with such rallies inflated power and water bills will be an election issue.”
AAP also announced that it would come up with 71 manifestoes ahead of the assembly elections in November. “One would be for Delhi and the rest for each assembly seat,” Kejriwal said.