By: V N Apurva
The draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, which has indicted Delhi’s three private power distribution companies of inflating assets and other irregular practices, could not have come at a better time for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi.
More than a year after ordering the CAG audit during their previous 49-day stint in power in 2014, the AAP government can feel vindicated. This report will give them confidence and help put governance in Delhi back on track. The CAG report is perhaps its biggest triumph in Delhi after sweeping the assembly elections in February.
For months now, the AAP, riding to power on promises of better governance and a clamp down on corruption, has remained beleaguered in taking its agenda forward. It has been beset by problems that include, a running battle with the NDA-ruled Union Government and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, a minister forced to resign for using a fake degree and a cloud over at least three MLAs on similar charges.
The CAG draft report indicates that Delhi’s discoms inflated assets and indulged in irregular practices, an indictment which bolsters the AAP’s case for further cuts in Delhi’s power tariff – a big ticket poll promise. (Soon after assuming office in February, the AAP government had halved power tariffs for families consuming up to 400 units a month.)
The CAG report has backed the party and its chief Arvind Kejriwal that power in Delhi can be cheaper and that there is a rationale for it. Kejriwal now has the foundation to debunk the criticism of populism. In the coming weeks, the AAP is likely to use this draft CAG report to underscore the point that their fundamentals in the power sector were correct.
It will also help the party to implement other big ticket reforms that the BJP and Congress have described as populist like the privatisation of water. The AAP has long held that water supply in Delhi has also suffered at the hands of privatisation and the Delhi government is conducting its own enquiry into allegations within the Delhi Jal Board.