Delhi, the epic center of Indian politics, is witnessing the political temperature rising in the capital, as local leaders of all political parties are canvassing door-to-door with their folded hands for the upcoming Municipal election. It is noteworthy that earlier MCDs used to be a single body, but in 2012 it was divided into three divisions–North, South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations. At the moment, there are three separate MCDs in Delhi that are going to polls. The present MCDs are governed by the BJP, which has the majority in all the three MCDs.
This MCD election is being observed by all political observers, as it will witness three-prong fight—BJP, Congress and AAP. Against this backdrop, this election will be a litmus test for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who failed to form the government after the recently concluded Goa and Punjab Legislative elections. Before assuming power in Delhi, Kejriwal made tall proclamations such as setting-up of Mahila Suraksha Dals for the security of women, installment of 15 lakh CCTV cameras to improve women’s safety, making Wi-Fi freely available at public spaces across Delhi for working people, etc. However, within two years of AAP’s government, almost zero initiative has been taken on the execution of these issues. On the other hand, some of political pundits are also considering a tough fight for the ruling BJP, which has been controlling MCDs for ten years. Some of them maintain that BJP might suffer a setback in this election due to anti-incumbency. However, the other political analysts opine that on the ground, situation is almost in favour of the BJP owing to the stunning victory in just-concluded elections in UP, Goa, Maharashtra and Odisha.
While this correspondent was doing a reality check at Chitranjan Park near Nehru Place, South Delhi, where the majority of people are Bengali speaking, lots of irritation against AAP was seen in the discussion with local people. Most of them were perturbed over the self-created clash of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal against the central government. While asking about Kejriwal’s promise of turning Delhi into a London, most of the people had a common allegation against Kejriwal of not providing the purified drinking water. “We have to pay more than fifty rupees each day for the purified water. However, the promise for providing the purified water was made in AAP’s manifesto,” they claimed.
Narayan Paul, a local resident of Chitranjan Park said that the sanitation work in his area is almost satisfactory, as some efforts on the subject of improving sewage system have been successfully made. “Earlier we used to confront the problem of water logging in the rainy season due to narrow streets and old sewage system. However, the work of MCD is average, yet fine. I criticize the government of Delhi for not providing the pure drinking water, the promise of which was made in its election manifesto and Delhi Jal Board is under the AAP government,” said Paul. He further said: “Earlier, when Congress was in power, at least it used to cooperate with BJP-controlled MCDs. At present, due to political clash between CM Kejriwal and the BJP government at the centre, people are very annoyed,” said a dismayed Paul. Talking about his political choice in the forthcoming Municipal election, he said sab aise hi hai (all parties are same). “Vote is a constitutional empowerment for the citizen of a democratic country and we all respect it. But the fact of the matter is, almost all the people who once come in power indulge in corrupt practices. Whatever our prime minister might do to avert these offenders, nothing will stop them. These people will keep on shifting the style of their illegal behavior,’’ said Paul.
In Okhala, one of the most populated places of Delhi, the migrated labor category of people from UP and Bihar reside in a large number. Since majority of these people are tenants, electricity and water bills assume significance for them. Vinod Ram, migrated from Siwan (Bihar) four years ago and works as a construction labor, pointed out the importance of electricity and water bills. “For people like us, who earn, on an average, four hundred rupee per day, it always hurts to pay more on electricity and water bills,” said Ram. Talking about his preference in this Municipal election, he categorically emphasised that he would cast his vote for those raising the labor concerns. By and large, some signs of anti-incumbency against BJP in MCD election was apparently spotted in people’s mind as the response was in a mixed way. So, at this point, the political opportunity for Congress and AAP is palpable. The significant number of minority votes in this area might work as a catalyst for Congress and AAP, which strongly believe in appeasement politics.
While walking on foot in Greater Kailash, a well-off residence of elites and influential people, a small bunch of people was seen beside a road. They opined their choices by typically focusing on cleanliness around their houses. Vijay Mishra, who has been working in Greater Kailash for eight years, shared his experience in this area “Greater Kailash is always known for providing sustainable life. I have been here for the last eight years and all the time I am satisfied with the work done by MCD here. Rarely will you find any encroachment here. Waste management in this locality resembles with that in developed countries and these points add to MCD’s success story here,” said Mishra. Most of the people, this correspondent talked to, were found to be praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his campaign of ‘Swachh India’. These people were almost satisfied with BJP’s ruling MCDs. However, they too were bothered about the collision between the Delhi government and the central government.
It is approximately tough to predict the verdict of Delhi MCD election. But on the grassroots level, most of the people, who previously voted for AAP, are admiring the work and the development agenda of BJP. Alternatively, they criticized both–Delhi’s AAP government and BJP-controlled MCDs for not cooperating with each other. According to the majority of the people, the bad quality of roads, air contamination and behind the schedule payment of sweepers are owing to the ego clash of both political parties. Thanks to the stunning victory of BJP in UP and others states, people’s response was witnessed almost in favour of Bharatiy Janata Party. A large section of people were seen praising Modi’s intent of scrapping the counterfeit currencies through demonetization and his numerous plans for the deprived citizens of the country.
By Ravi Mishra