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For AAP, the upcoming civic polls are no longer just about wooing the “aam aadmi” in the capital. Confident of retaining its support among the middle and lower middle classes, the party is also eyeing the affluent, propertied sections and going out of its way to tap the migrant vote bank.
In the run-up to the municipal polls, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s two major promises — waiving house tax and power and water subsidies for tenants — is his attempt to tap into the BJP’s traditional vote base and strengthen its hold on a burgeoning migrant population.
Since coming to power in February 2015, Kejriwal set out to bring down power and water tariffs in keeping with his pre-poll promises, and has claimed credit for bringing down power tariff to among the lowest in the country.
While the subsidy has benefitted a large section in the capital, tenants continued to pay an “average rate” for combined electricity meter readings.
“So far, every household with a single meter could avail of this benefit but a large number of tenants were left out due to the cap for the first 400 units. If AAP comes to power in the MCDs, we intend to make tenants eligible for separate meters so that they can benefit from the subsidy for the first 400 units,” a leader said.
The promise of a house tax waiver, meanwhile, is an attempt to woo the propertied class. “House tax collections have been a big scam in the BJP-ruled MCDs. This is for the propertied class, but they too have a right to honest governance,” a senior leader said.
According to AAP’s estimates, around 10 lakh house owners pay property tax. “Each household has an average of four to five voters, which would mean over 40 lakh votes that will take a stand on the issue,” he added.
Even as the BJP and the Congress raised doubts over the feasibility of the waiver, Kejriwal has reiterated, “They made fun of me when I promised free water and power subsidy. They had said the DJB will be in further losses but the body recorded a Rs 178 crore profit.”
Cong councillor joins AAP
Three-time Congress councillor and former deputy Mayor Razia Sultana joined AAP Monday. “In the Congress, only moneyed candidates are being given a patient hearing, not the honest party worker… So I decided to join hands with Arvind Kejriwal,” she said.
AAP called it a great boost for its volunteers ahead of the MCD polls.