The Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi is set to complete one year in office even as the city stinks with garbage littered across its streets due to the strike by MCD workers over non-payment of their salaries. Though the chief minister offered a Rs 551-crore loan to the civic bodies, the agitating workers refused to end the stir. And if a solution is not devised soon, the agitation will end up spoiling the Aam Aadmi Party’s anniversary party — the party had stormed to power with a phenomenal victory of 67 seats in the 70-member Assembly, halting the Modi wave.
But the one-year journey has been a roller coaster ride for Kejriwal government.
Free water, power
Much was at stake for Kejriwal when he stormed to power as despite a resounding victory most were apprehensive about the survival of the government owing to his image of a ‘man in a hurry’ who broke his party’s alliance with Congress after 49 days of governance during the previous stint. However, Kejriwal started by delivering on the promises of freebies, ordering a 50 per cent subsidy on monthly power consumption of up to 400 units and 20,000 litres of free water per month to all households, winning the confidence of Delhiites.
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Yadav, Bhushan kicked out
But soon after this a major drama unfolded with the internal rift within party coming out in open. Once considered close to Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were kicked out of the party after they claimed the party was being run in a undemocratic manner. Kejriwal accused the two leaders of working against the party, even claiming the duo had tried to defeat AAP in the Delhi polls. Both leaders were mishandled and thrown out of the AAP’s national council meeting. The party drew flak for the in fight and a question mark was put on its functioning.
Farmer suicide in AAP rally
Before things settled down, a farmer’s suicide at the party’s rally put the government in the dock. As party leader Ashutosh burst into tears on television over the tragic death of the farmer, Gajendra Singh, he was slammed on social media for his party’s insensitivity. Kejriwal later expressed remorse and said that it was a mistake on his part to continue the rally after Singh’s suicide.
Kejriwal 100 days event and Tomar arrest
In May, Kejriwal organised a mega event at Central Park to present the highlight his government’s achievements in 100 days before the public, including free power and water, initiating process of regularising unauthorised colonies, banning demolition of jhuggis, launching anti-corruption helpline, providing licences to e-rickshaws and others. However, weeks later fake degree row involving law minister Delhi Jitender Singh Tomar put the government again on the back foot. Embarrassed, the AAP government sacked Tomar after he was arrested by the Delhi Police.
Jung vs Kejriwal
Meanwhile, an ugly war between the Delhi government and LG Najeeb Jung broke out over appointment of an acting chief secretary. Kejriwal accused the LG of trying to render an elected government ineffective and asked him to work “within the confines” of Constitution. From appointment of chief secretary to the chief of Delhi Commission of Women to the chief of the Anti-Corruption Branch, Kejriwal and Jung were at loggerheads, leaving most of Delhi confused.
Kejriwal vs Bassi
Also involved in an ugly spat with Kejriwal was Delhi police chief B S Bassi. While Kejriwal maintained that the city is not in safe hands, Bassi kept saying he is ‘competent enough’ to ensure the safety of the people. But the relation between Delhi government and Police touched a new low after police raided AAP MLA and former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti’s house following a complaint of domestic violence by his wife. As many as 50 officers and eight police teams were part of a manhunt for Bharti.
CBI raids Kejriwal’s office
However, the CBI raids at Kejriwal’s principal secretary’s office gave the Delhi CM an opportunity to embarrass the Modi government. He not only accused the prime minister of using the probe agency to “intimidate” him and his government, but also put the Centre in dock with allegation of massive corruption against Arun Jaitley in DDCA. Very soon he found a supporter in BJP MP Kirti azad who echoed Kejriwal’s view and presented numerous proof to back Kejriwal’s allegation of corruption in DDCA. As a result Azad was suspended by his party.
One of the major highlights of Kejriwal government remained the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme for 15 days to check pollution in the city. The scheme though drew criticsm but certainly relived the city of traffic congestion, if not pollution. And when Kejriwal organised a success rally for the Odd-even scheme, he was thrown ink at by a woman activist of the Aam Aadmi Sena, triggering another blame game between the AAP and the BJP.
The government is currently under sharp criticism over the strike by MCD workers. But the current crisis is also seen as an opportunity for the Kejriwal government to build a case to bring the MCD under Delhi government control.