At the centre of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s claims of ‘good governance’ was the successful delivery of subsidised ‘bijli-paani’ (power-water) and a ‘profit-making’ Delhi Jal Board (DJB), handled by his now estranged colleague Kapil Mishra. Among the tall claims made by the AAP chief, much pride revolved around what Mishra had delivered withing months of taking over the Water Resources portfolio.
One of main poll planks for the AAP, when it contested the 2015 Assembly polls, was to provide free water, a promise that Kejriwal kept and has flaunted since.
“When we had announced the free water scheme, critics said DJB finances will sink. But the DJB earned Rs 178 crore in 2015-16, which is more than the previous year’s revenue. Everyone kept saying that providing 20,000 litres of free water will destroy DJB, but now it seems that these big economists will have to revise their theories to explain this increase in revenue,” Kejriwal had claimed at the launch of DJB’s ‘m-Sewa’ app, with Mishra in tow at the event.
“We believed in Delhi’s public which has led to this miracle of increased revenue along with saved water,” Kejriwal had said. In rallies ahead of the Punjab and Goa polls, the party promised to replicate its free water scheme in the two states if it came to power.
Yet again, ahead of the MCD polls, Kejriwal went out to the parched residential colonies across the capital where piped water coverage marked a significant rise, such as Deoli, Sangam Vihar, Burari, Badli. He reminded his audiences of having delivered his promise of free water. In the municipal polls, Kejriwal was also hopeful of replicating the subsidised free water promise, at the level of the MCDs, for tenants.
However, close to a week before the municipal polls, on April 23, a barrage of complaints against poor water and power supply across the capital ruffled Kejriwal, who hit out at the BJP and Congress. “BJP or Congress is disconnecting power and water connections at several places. I request them with folded hands, ‘Tum mera bijli paani kaat lo, mere Delhiwalon ko pareshan mat karo’,” Kejriwal had tweeted.
Even as the AAP leadership cited Mishra’s poor management of the department and complaints of poor water supply by a number of MLAs as the reason for his ouster; for Mishra, Kejriwal’s tweet blaming the Opposition now stands as testimony of his innocence. As the allegations between Mishra and the party leadership intensified, Mishra left them flummoxed by retweeting Kejriwal and adding the question: “Were you lying then?”