BJP launches mega drive against mosquito-borne diseases, AAP says drama
Delhi’s ruling party termed the campaign as “drama” and accused the civic bodies of purchasing anti-larvae chemicals at a higher rate of Rs 3,256 per kg, compared to the Rs 2,500 per kg paid by other municipal corporations for chemicals of similar quality, a charge the BJP denied outright.Updated: Aug 26, 2020, 00:00 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led municipal corporations of Delhi, with an eye on the 2022 civic body elections, on Tuesday launched a mega campaign to create awareness about dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, a move that triggered a war of words with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Delhi’s ruling party termed the campaign as “drama” and accused the civic bodies of purchasing anti-larvae chemicals at a higher rate of Rs 3,256 per kg, compared to the Rs 2,500 per kg paid by other municipal corporations for chemicals of similar quality, a charge the BJP denied outright.
With municipal elections scheduled in 2022, the BJP, which is ruling the three corporations since 2007, has put its entire state machinery behind the campaign as it hopes to win a fourth consecutive term.
A similar campaign launched by the AAP government had led to a tussle between the two parties last year.
As part of the 10 Hafte-10 Baje-10 Minute” (10 for 10 weeks at 10 am) campaign last August to tackle dengue, chikungunya and other vector-borne diseases in Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had urged the public to check their residences every Sunday for mosquito breeding. Several celebrities had lent support to the campaign.
Leaving nothing to chance and looking for a head start this time, the BJP asked its senior leaders, including all seven members of Parliament, and MLAs, to participate in the month-long campaign.
On Tuesday, north corporation mayor Jai Prakash and BJP national vice-president Shyam Jaju participated in a drive at Flagstaff Road, where the Chief Minister’s residence is located. Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta and SDMC mayor Anamika Mithilesh started the campaign from the Civic Centre, the headquarters of the north and south Delhi municipal corporations.
Taking pot shots at AAP’s 2019 campaign, the Delhi BJP chief said, “Municipalities here do not work for 10 minutes but round the clock to control the spread of dengue and other vector-borne diseases. We are committed to keeping the city people healthy and safe. Our DBC (domestic breeding checkers) workers will visit households to spray anti-larvae medicines and health department officials will conduct a written assessment of mosquito breeding in every household.”
Launching the campaign at Flagstaff Road, Jai Prakash said, “It was the municipal corporations that did everything to control dengue and chikungunya. We were doing the work on the ground but the government took credit. They hijacked it. This time we are set not only to take measures to control dengue, chikungunya and malaria, but also to spread awareness among masses. The public should know that the MCDs are working for them tirelessly.”
The Delhi government’s campaign last year had led to a political fight between the two parties. While the BJP had accused the ruling party of taking credit from municipal officials, AAP had accused the BJP of trying to negate the Delhi government’s campaign to combat dengue by “politicising the seasonal disease”.
Jai Prakash said the importance of this year’s campaign could be gauged from the fact that all seven MPs, BJP MLAs and the state BJP leadership would take part and “convey the message” to the masses.
BJP MPs Manoj Tiwari, Meenakshi Lekhi and Hans Raj Hans led the campaigns at Civil Lines, Karol Bagh and Narela, respectively.
Senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak described the BJP’s move as “drama”, saying a similar campaign for cleaning garbage yielded no results. “This campaign is nothing but a drama. It is also a way to make money. The MCDs had in July last year purchased the chemical sprayed on mosquito larvae at a price of Rs 3256.8 per kg. The same drug was bought by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation for Rs 2,500 per kg. Where this money has gone? It’s a scam. They don’t have money to pay their teachers and doctors but buy things on higher rates,” Pathak alleged.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta refuted Pathak’s claims. “These are baseless allegations. They are in the habit of making such allegations to tarnish the image of MCDs and BJP leaders,” Gupta said.
Speaking on the political row, Sanjay Kumar, director, Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), said it looks like a “healthy competition” on an issue that concerns the common man. He, however, said the BJP’s move of putting its entire machinery behind the campaign reveals an element of politics in it.
“Kejriwal’s campaign against dengue last year resonated well with the public so the BJP is trying to pick up the public concern issue early this time before AAP. It is good that instead of doing politics by blaming MLAs or party leaders, the BJP has picked up an issue that concerns the people,” Kumar said.
Mosquito-borne diseases are a major health issue in Delhi. According to civic records, in 2015, as many as 15,867 dengue cases were reported and 60 people lost their lives. The number of dengue cases in 2019 was controlled at 2,036 and two deaths were reported.
This year, according to civic records, 51 cases of dengue, 28 cases of chikungunya and 53 cases of malaria have been reported till August 22. No deaths have been recorded yet.
The AAP has also started its preparations for the civic polls. According to AAP functionaries, the party is strengthening its workforce on the ground and started cornering the BJP-ruled municipalities on issues such as corruption, laxity of work, and sanitation, among others.