When half-done is well-begun

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The Sticky Wicket Transport

By Deepa Philip

AAP Mantra: Last mile connectivity

Achievements:

♦ Successful implementation of odd-even first phase

♦ Notification of 402 ‘Halt and Go’ auto stops by the traffic police

♦ Registration of e-Rickshaws, subsidy of 15,000 for purchase from Air Ambience Fund

♦ Scrapping of BRT corridors

♦ Scaling down costs of flyovers, proposed projects of previous govt.

♦ Stopped harassment of auto drivers by traffic police

Fallouts:

♦ Unruly auto-rickshaw drivers

♦ Additional fleet of buses not yet introduced

♦ No action towards an Unified Transport Authority

♦ Appointing home-guards as DTC marshals for women safety failed; proved impractical

In Pipeline:

♦ Bus fleet of 2000 by August, first fleet expected by April

♦ Elevated bus corridors

♦ Introduction of luxury buses

♦ Odd-Even Phase II rollout from 15 April 2015

♦ Creation of dedicated bus lanes

♦ Revamping of Ring Railway

“The introduction of luxury buses to woo the upper classes is a good idea as personal vehicles are the main reason for congestion, fuel wastage and pollution” – BI Singal Former Director General Institute of Urban Transport (IUT)

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Though elections are all about fighting for a majority in the House, an Opposition almost wiped out at the state level but in power at the Centre, has proved to be a major roadblock in governance. Listen to what Vijender Gupta, Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, has to say on this: “The government’s attitude was totally undemocratic. They constantly snubbed us. BJP legislators were bullied and humiliated by AAP members, and there was no parliamentary system in the House.” What we see here is how a party that enjoys a-little-less-than-brute majority in the Lok Sabha is pointing out the “undemocratic” impact of its rival’s “brute majority” in the Delhi Assembly. Gupta used to lead a three-member Opposition until OP Sharma was suspended from the House following alleged sexist remarks against AAP legislator Alka Lamba.

In the face of all these troubles, AAP’s strength lies in the faith that Delhi’s slum-dwellers continue to repose in the party. “We got cemented roads in our slum and the public toilet was rebuilt six months ago,” says Shyam Saran of Anna Nagar. “Though I am not a supporter of Kejriwal, I cannot deny the positive changes during his regime.”

Another set of barbs thrown at AAP involves women’s safety. “We have formed a commission of inquiry to probe into complaints of crime against women,” says Deputy Speaker Bandana Kumari. “Installation of cctv cameras is in process. But we don’t have the police in our hand, so we can’t do much. We had thought that the police would cooperate, but that hasn’t been the case.”

The government is yet to come up with a concrete policy for rape survivors who are minors. The survivors still have to move from pillar to post for everything from legal action to medical care, monetary compensation and education. “We are thinking of passing a couple of legislations regarding this soon,” says Kumari, who also heads AAP’s women wing.

Similarly, failure to create any mechanism to curb corruption and the delay in bringing Jan Lokpal do not augur well for AAP’s prospects. Incidents like fake degrees of former minister Jitender Tomar and others, fraud charges against MLA Manoj Kumar and removal of Asim Ahmed Khan on corruption charges emboldened AAP’s critics such as Yogendra Yadav, who says there could be “a dozen more MLAs whose skeletons can tumble out of the cupboard any day.”

There are also areas where this government has scored well — initiatives such as Swachh Delhi mobile app and ‘Bill Banao, Inam Pao’ — to encourage customers to put pressure on shopkeepers to provide them with bills for every purchase. This is supposed to tighten the implementation of VAT and has been successful so far.

The Delhi government under AAP has also earned accolades for harnessing technology to boost public participation in governance and government-civil society dialogue.

AAP’s claim of doing alternative politics, which brought them 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly, and its national presence have raised expectations so high that even its friends are sometimes critical of its performance. For instance, social activist Aruna Roy says, “As a former RTI activist himself, Arvind should have implemented Section 4 of the RTI Act, which provides for suomoto disclosure by public officials. It ensures that people will monitor the government on their own. That way he could have made Delhi a role model for other states.”

On AAP’s one-year score card, Abhay Dubey of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, says, “We cannot analyse the success or failure of the AAP government by ignoring larger political developments in New Delhi. The central government, through the LG, the Delhi Police and other agencies have been putting undue pressure on AAP, and so they have not been able to act the way they might have wanted. Despite this, AAP has several achievements in its kitty and one must give it points for ensuring timely delivery of subsidy on electricity and improvement in the water situation.”

While AAP is creating waves of change in Punjab’s political sphere, voters in Delhi await the implementation of the 70-point manifesto. They want concrete, fast and time-bound action on the promises. In Dubey’s words, “If they fail to act on their manifesto in the next six months or a year, no excuse would work. They will have to face unrelenting criticism.”

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