Arvind Kejriwal, Sheila Dikshit and Harsh Vardhan, the three Delhi CM hopefuls spell out vision for city on Corruption, Safety of women, law and order, full statehood, power, Water, FDI in Retail Sector and Vague promises.
How will you pass Jan Lokpal, a central legislation, in the Delhi legislative assembly? Even if you bring its state version, it will need ratification from Parliament. How will your Jan Lokpal be different?
A misinformation campaign has been deliberately launched to belittle our most important agenda for eradication of corruption. What we have promised is to bring legislation for an effective and strong Lokayukta for Delhi on the lines of what BC Khanduri’s government had done in Uttarakhand. Our Jan Lokpal bill had a chapter on Lokayuktas for states. Where is the question for ratification by Parliament?
Why is your party/manifesto silent on corruption? Many Lokayukta rulings (against you and your ministers) were overlooked by your government.
No! I am sorry! The Lokayukta judgments have gone right up to the President of India and he has said there is nothing. The Lokayukta hauled us up for giving certificates to people in unauthorised colonies. We have to give them (the urban development department) some time to regularise the colonies. How were we wrong? The other thing we got ticked for in 2008-09 was putting up advertisements for the party on behalf of the government. Totally wrong. Had we done that, the election commission would have been the first one to indict us.
Lokayukta already exists in Delhi. What more can you do to address corruption in government/administration?
There are already many institutions to punish the guilty; the idea is to further strengthen them. At the same time, the system itself needs to be made more transparent, leaving no scope for corruption. Had they done something like this during the Commonwealth Games, everything would have been crystal clear.
On Safety of women/law and order
You have promised a quasi-armed citizen force in each ward. Elaborate.
Following the ‘Nirbhaya’ and ‘Gudiya’ incidents, the citizens of the capital feel the police are unable to safeguard their lives and dignity. Their participation is essential in making the city safe, to allow our sisters and mothers lead lives without fear. We propose a women protection force in each ward to be led by ex-servicemen and others with similar experience.
You have been criticised for indulging in blame game with Delhi Police without offering to do much yourself.
No! Whatever Delhi should do on its own as a government, we have done. We put up fast track courts, then we started 181 - the helpline for women in distress - we coordinated with the police and other government agencies. Our concern is people’s comfort, nothing else. With one command centre, we have to look at issues which trouble the people of Delhi including law and order.
You promise a women security force under direct supervision of the CM. How will it differ from Delhi Police?
The idea is at the level of a vision which we want to fulfil. We want to involve more and more women, who will be trained and will act as a group to handle cases. This will also provide them employment. We will hold meetings with the stakeholders to ascertain how they want this force to work. People like Kiran Bedi, who have worked extensively for women’s rights, will be approached.
On Full Statehood
Congress and BJP are also demanding single command system/full statehood. How is your demand different?
The Congress and BJP are not serious on the issue. The Congress has no excuse since there is a Congress government at the Centre for nine years. The BJP also could have put pressure on the government given its big presence in Parliament. We are saying, with people’s support, we will force the Centre to accept this critical demand.
You have been demanding statehood for the last three terms. Why couldn’t you get it even with the Congress at the Centre?
Delhi state, with this UT status and the assembly, the chief minister and cabinet was created under section 239 of the Constitution. But it did not have these powers (control over law and order and land issues). Having seen the governance in Delhi in 20 years, we now need to change its system to expedite the development process. This (full statehood) is not just being asked by us or our assembly. This is something that has been recommended by various committees set up to look at the governance pattern in Delhi. They all said the government in Delhi and the local assembly should get more powers. We have been trying and will keep on trying.
Congress and AAP are demanding single command system/full statehood for Delhi. How is your demand different?
Our demand is no different from others; from day one we have been demanding statehood for Delhi. During NDA’s tenure, an independent bill was tabled in Parliament but till date nothing has been done. The Delhi CM had 10 years with the Congress at the Centre but still she didn’t push for it. Most of Delhi’s problems lie in multiplicity of authorities and complete statehood is the only answer.
On what basis do you say power tariff can be brought down by 50%? Experts say power rates are determined by prices of coal and gas; the state governments have no control over it.
Yes, we have conducted a study and our promise is based on inputs from eminent experts in the field of power. I don’t know which experts you are talking about; there is a DERC order that states power prices are high. The problem is that the Sheila Dikshit government was more interested in allowing the discoms to earn profits at the cost of the aam aadmi. We will first audit their (discoms) accounts and that will bring everything before the public.
There are allegations that your government favoured distribution companies and allowed them to hike power tariff even when they were showing profits and rates should have come down.
How have I favoured them? The demand for charges (power tariff) that they (discoms) give is not looked at by the government but by the DERC (Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission). The DERC goes through a procedure of looking at the cost of purchase of power, why it should sell at a particular rate. What we did was, when we found the cost (power purchase cost) had gone up and the DERC was going to give this (tariff hike) order, give subsidy to those who use less than 200 units and second slab of (consumptions between) 200-400 units. We have not done anything illegal. And we are giving you and Delhi 24-hour power supply.
You promise 30% reduction in power tariff? How have you arrived at this figure?
There is always scope for reduction as introducing more power distribution companies will lead to competition, thereby reducing tariff as witnessed in the telecom sector. Solar energy is another crucial aspect which has been neglected. If every house becomes a power house they will be able to generate electricity for their own purpose and will be able to sell it too. Naturally, power tariff would come down.
You promise water to every household in Delhi and up to 700 litres free. Is it financially viable?
We have found that providing 700 litres per household will incur an expenditure of `464 crore annually, whereas the DJB’s profit is `470 crore annually. Our promise is to transfer this profit to the people. Financial viability is a myth being spread by those parties which never thought about people’s welfare.
You promise subsidised water up to 40 kl per person per day. What will be it its financial implications? You also promise to lay pipelines across Delhi. Considering one-third of Delhi is illegally settled, it is difficult to achieve.
About 82% of our people get piped water, leaving only 18% to be covered. In the process, we have to earn money. The government supports the Delhi Jal Board and will continue till people get their share of water. What we are emphasising on is conserving water and not wasting it. We want (from the Jal Board) to substantially bring down leakages. Once we are able to do that, Delhi will be in better position to charge (more for water).
Water supply is already heavily subsidised in Delhi. You want to subsidise it further.
We said we will review the situation. At the same time, we are confident of reducing the rates as we’ve been hearing that 40% water is lost in leakages. If that can be taken care of, more water will be available, thereby reducing the tariff. It is a clear case of mismanagement.
On FDI in Retail Sector
You have decided to oppose FDI in retail. Is it to woo the local traders’ lobby?
We do not believe in wooing any lobby. AAP studied the issue and arrived at the conclusion that its adverse effects were far greater than what the UPA government has tried to project. Sheila Dikshit had said Delhi would be the first state to have an FDI retail store. Why did a single investor not come forward? Without basic infrastructure like electricity and roads, talk of FDI in retail looks foolish.
Your manifesto is silent on FDI in retail, though you had announced that Delhi would be the first state to enforce the new policy.
We are still there (on our earlier promise). We will still welcome it. Whenever it comes we will be happy to do (in Delhi). It is not in the manifesto because it is a central government policy. We have offered, please being FDI (in retail) to Delhi.
Why is your manifesto silent on this issue?
Our stand is very clear — we are against it. We have been protesting against it and had called for Delhi bandh, so there is no question of remaining silent.
How will you roll back four-year undergraduate programme in Delhi University, a central varsity?
What was the need for tampering with the existing undergraduate programme? The government has not been able to give a convincing answer. The state government should have a say in the central varsity’s affairs.
You are promising a Common Economic Zone for the NCR. It is a tall promise considering we don’t have coordination between NCR states on something as basic as movement of auto-rickshaws and taxis.
I am merely saying that the NCR Board is meant for co-ordination, equality of opportunities…What we have said is that it should become a common economic zone for the benefit of people. The NCR Board should be an effective tool for the development of the region as a centre of economic development.
You promise to set up a migrant commission. How will you decide who a migrant is?
For the past few years, their number has increased and they have contributed substantially to the city. However, they have their own concerns and not everything can be done by the government. This is where the migrant commission will fit in. The commission will guide the government while framing policy for them. For us, migrants are those who come to the city regularly in a large number, be it for a temporary job or anything else.
Interviews by Atul Mathur, Neelam Pandey, Nivedita Khandekar