As the strike by MCD workers entered its fifth day on Sunday, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers, legislators and volunteers took a cue from their party symbol and hit the roads, broom in hand.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, PWD Minister Satyendar Jain, Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra and Environment Minister Imraan Hussain joined the cleaning drive in different areas. Prodded by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the party’s MLAs, too, took up the broom. The MCD sanitation workers, on strike over non-payment of salaries, maintained that they will carry on with protests until their demands are met.
The state government had, Saturday, formed a task force for each district and directed the PWD to clear garbage. On Sunday, workers from the DJB, too, joined in. (Pics: AAP members cleaning the roads of Delhi)
While the Congress criticised the Kejriwal government for creating the mess by reducing budget allocation for the civic bodies, Sisodia, who swept the streets in East Delhi’s Patparganj, said, “We have already paid them (corporations) funds for clearing salaries. We cannot let people live amid garbage. Hence, we have undertaken the cleanliness drive.”
The Indian Express visited two areas to check the ground reality. At Old Rajinder Nagar’s water tank, it was as Bollywoodesque as it gets. A black Wagon R, with an octogenarian holding a broom, arrived slowly. A speaker on top, tied with a rope, played patriotic songs. A group of about 15 appeared next. Soon, there was dust everywhere, as Vijender Garg, the AAP MLA from Rajinder Nagar, started sweeping along with the volunteers. The garbage was moved to a neat little pile. Garg advised the volunteers to put the waste into big, black polythene bags and empty them in the waiting PWD dumping truck. But as it turned into a collective frenzy, many volunteers in their enthusiasm to move to the next stretch left half the garbage on the road.
It was a mixed bag of feelings for the residents, many of whom had come out of their homes. Pointing at heaps of garbage left, Bhoop, a tea seller, called the drive a photo-op. But Rakesh Kumar, a local resident, was a happy man. “They picked up garbage from in front of my house.”
The songs kept playing, keeping up a festive atmosphere on a slightly overcast day. About the heap of garbage, Garg said, “PWD trucks will pick it up later. Hum Modi ji ki tarah dikhawa nehin karte (We don’t pretend to clean like Modi).”
A few kilometres away in Karol Bagh, volunteers stood waiting for their MLA, Vishesh Ravi, who arrived half-an-hour late. Surgical gloves were brought in and four new brooms with long handles distributed. After a lengthy discussion on which stretch to start with, they decided settled on 14-B Dev Nagar.