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Kejriwal’s AAP must rise above its confrontationist image and deliver on its historic mandate

A certain ad-hocism, often bordering on recklessness, has frequently marred the AAP government’s decision-making over the past three years

editorials Updated: Feb 14, 2018 22:30 IST
Hindustan Times
AAP,Arvind Kejriwal,Delhi
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (second from left) and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia (left) along with party colleagues attend a function to celebrate three years of AAP government, New Delhi, February 14, 2018(Arvind Yadav/HT )

The Aam Aadmi Party, which rode to power on a landslide victory in Delhi, has completed three years in government. The new party had set a high benchmark for itself by promising a different brand of politics and governance. In government, AAP did think out-of-the-box in addressing the issues of public health and education and delivered on the pro-poor promises of introducing consumption-based water and power tariffs.

However, the much-vaunted governance has been mired in endless controversy over these three years. A certain ad-hocism, often bordering on recklessness, frequently marred the AAP government’s decision making.

While the disqualification of 20 MLAs on the ground of holding an office of profit has been the most recent — and perhaps the biggest — setback, a typical lack of foresight has hampered government initiatives such as physical expansion of the mohalla clinic chain or procurement of public buses for the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). The AAP’s flagship mohalla clinic project, for instance, could have resurrected the ragtag primary healthcare machinery in Delhi and served as a template of reform for other Indian states. The government had promised to open 1,000 such clinics in five years. Three years on, not more than 160 neighbourhood clinics are functional.

A fleet of 5,000 buses, as promised in the party’s 70-point election manifesto, could have gone a long way in solving the national capital’s public transport woes. Increasing mass transit options is not a choice but a compulsion in a city whose people breathe the world’s foulest air. Three years down, not a single bus has been added to the DTC fleet simply because the government could not float suitable tenders. And when the pollution levels peaked in November, the city administration responded with a high-decibel blame game. Other key promises — opening canteens to sell subsidised food and making the toxic water of the Yamuna fit for bathing in three years — are now forgotten.

The never-ending face-offs with the lieutenant governor’s office, the Centre and its own bureaucracy have not helped the AAP government’s administrative efficiency or the delivery system. The government’s image has also taken a hit for failing to find a way around predictable deadlocks. For many stakeholders, the nature, scale and background of the AAP’s electoral triumph in 2015 heralded a potential watershed moment in India’s politics. The party has only two more years to rise above its confrontationist, populist image and make the most of that historic mandate.

First Published: Feb 14, 2018 19:31 IST