Assembly won, AAP prepares ground for MCD polls 2022Updated: Feb 13, 2020 00:01 IST
New Delhi: Barely a day after sweeping the Delhi assembly elections, an upbeat Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is preparing the groundwork to take control of the city’s three municipal corporations, polls for which will be held in 2022, according to senior leaders who said cleanliness and sanitation would be among the party’s top priorities during its third term in the state secretariat.
To achieve this, the AAP government, in its third term, plans to shift its stance from being at loggerheads with the civic agencies — which Kejriwal has in the past described as a “den of corruption” — to proactively cooperating with them by devising issue-based schemes.
The east, south, and north Delhi municipal corporations (EDMC, SMDC and North MCD) are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won in 181 of the 272 wards of the city in the April 2017 MCD elections. The AAP was a distant second, winning 49 wards, and the Congress was pushed to third position with 31 wards.
The AAP, for which the 2022 MCD elections will be a second attempt to take control of the agencies that largely deal with cleanliness apart from running some schools, parking lots and streetlights, plans to launch “model projects” across the city with the focus on infrastructure maintenance and sanitation.
In an interview to Hindustan Times last week, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had hinted about such projects. “Till the MCD elections, we will take certain steps; after the civic polls, we’ll do more… For vacuum-cleaning of roads, we’re exploring a scheme in which the Delhi government will give funds to the MCDs specifically for scaling up cleanliness across the city…” Kejriwal had said.
AAP member Jasmine Shah, who is the vice-chairman of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDCD), said the party has already formed a core team to identify specific issues that can be addressed by the Delhi government through the MCDs, even without being in control of the bodies. “The AAP government will bring back its Mukhyamantri Sadak Nirman Yojna (CM road building scheme) in a big way. Under this, the Delhi government’s Public Works Department will be asked to carry out repair works of even roads that fall under the jurisdiction of the three MCDs,” Shah said.
The DDCD is a policy making body of the Delhi government that works as a think-tank, identifying problems in consultation with citizens and then suggesting solutions.
The Kejriwal-led government will also scale up the CM streetlight scheme, which was launched just weeks before the assembly elections on February 8. Under this scheme, all streetlights, even if they are to be managed by the MCDs, will be maintained by the Delhi government.
The multiplicity of agencies in Delhi is such that there is often confusion among people about which agency is responsible for different civic functions. While sanitation comes under the MCDs, in the April 2017 elections the BJP ran a campaign that appeared to blame the government over unclean roads and unlifted garbage in parts of the city.
To be sure, one of the key points of dispute between the government and the civic bodies is payment to sanitation workers, a large chunk of whose salary comes from government funds, and who often go on long strikes, particularly in East Delhi over the non-payment of dues.
In the coming days, the Delhi government will cooperate with the municipalities “on every front”, Shah said, indicating that there may be less of a confrontation over the issue of salaries.
The AAP is also planning to make women’s safety also a key poll plank in the MCD elections, and will highlight how dark spots were removed from across the Capital, a senior party leader said on condition of anonymity.
“We are specifically working on issue-based projects for which funds will be given to the MCDs and closely monitored. In many cases, we are also exploring the possibility of getting the works done by Delhi government agencies like the PWD and DSIIDC,” he said.
The AAP fielded three sitting councillors in the assembly elections -- Abdul Rehman from Seelampur, Kuldeep Kumar from Kondli and Rohit Mehrolia from Trilokpuri. All of them were won by comfortable margins.
Another leader, who asked not to be named, said that the AAP will appeal to the people of the city that they have delivered on schools, hospitals, power and water, and should now be given a chance to clean the city to make it a world-class Capital.
A BJP leader in the MCDs said the party is ready to welcome the AAP government’s “positive attitude, if at all it happens”.
“Since the public of Delhi has chosen them to form the government, it is their responsibility to give funds to MCDs and support us. We are a non-profit institution and have to be aided by the city government to survive. They are not supposed to conspire against us, but help us. We (BJP leaders of municipal corporations) will go to meet him whenever he calls us,” said Kamaljeet Sehrawat, current leader of house in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).