Aam Aadmi Party's rout of the Congress, I would like to believe, had more to do with the revulsion of the Delhi-ites with the inept and corrupt Central regime than with the comparatively competent Sheila Dikshit government. Perhaps some of the populist programmes, listed in AAP's election manifesto, too helped in garnering votes. But, now that we are talking of governance, it's perhaps time to examine the practicality of the tackling of the 18 issues (sourced from YahooNews), pertaining to the common man raised in AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal's letter to the Congress and the BJP chiefs (based largely on the points listed in their manifesto).
Most of these issues could apply to Bengaluru too (as much as any other city in the country), and since the city is supposed to be AAP's 2nd strongest base in the country, I, as a card-holding member of the LokSatta party (whose chief Dr Jayaprakash Narayan had extended considerable support to AAP in the initial stages), would like to offer some unsolicited advice against the issues raised. So, here I go:
1. The VIP culture should be stopped in Delhi. No MLA, minister or Delhi official will use a red beacon on their cars. Neither will they live in big bungalows nor take any special security.
Agree totally. Perhaps, the bungalow culture in Bengaluru too could be phased out over a period.
2. Passing of the Janlokpal Bill, the same version for which Anna Hazare held fasts.
Agree with the need for the Lokpal. The "Jan" bit is a contentious matter, which has been debated at length on various platforms, including on Praja (here). We will choose not to further it here for now.
3. People will take decision directly in 'mohalla sabhas', which will be held in every locality and colony.
This is the "ward committee" issue, about the unsatisfactory constitution and functioning of which, extensive debates have taken place (here). This is quite the basis of decentralisation of governance, and as such needs to addressed immediately.
4. The AAP demanded complete statehood status for Delhi. Central government's hold on DDA and Police should end.
Very true - again, immediately needed. Doesn't apply to Bengaluru, though, at least as of now.
5. The party also demanded a special audit of all electricity companies in the national capital from the time these were privatised. The companies that refuse to participate, their licenses should be cancelled.
AAP has been alleging fudging of data by the DISCOMS while making tariff increase claims. As such, a special audit perhaps needs to be undertaken. And, if the allegations are found to be true, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) needs to be pulled up, and perhaps reconstituted, allowing for a position for a nominee of the Civil Society. Notwithstanding AAP's allegations, it needs to be recognised that, at least in those parts of Delhi coming under Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), over the 8 years since the taking over from the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), the system reliability has gone up by 42.7% (from 70% to 99.9%) - meaning, I expect, the sales of gensets, inverters, UPS devices, batteries, converters, emergency lamps, voltage stabilisers, candles, match-sticks, etc must be dropping drastically. And, with the tariff levels still comparable with those in other cities, Delhi-ites are nett of nett enjoying cheaper power than those in cities, like Namma Bengaluru. In fact, I would go on to recommend the Delhi model of privatisation of power supply for all cities currently (dis)-serviced by government service providers (check this) - first in the list needs to be Bengaluru.
Incidentally, Lutyens Delhi continues to be covered DVB (check this). This is essentially to allow for all kinds of concessions to the Neta's and Babu's residing there, including non-payment of bills for months and years together. AAP should immediately demand that these areas too are handed over to TPDDL.
6. Electricity meters should be checked.
Representatives samples can be checked, and if there is a problem, more rigorous action can be taken.
7. There is 220 litres of water available for every person daily. Where is it?
Likewise, 1400 million litres of water is being pumped into Bengaluru from Cauvery everyday, apart from the smaller quantity from T G Halli. Now, if all of the water drawn from Cauvery alone can be distributed at an efficiency level of 90% (the level recorded in advanced countries) across our 8 million population, each person will get a comfortable 160 litres a day. But, this calls for professionalism, far beyond the capacity of our BWSSB or Delhi's Jal Board. The job has essentially to be outsourced to professional players, and the huge costs involved have to be met too. Full scale debate on the subject is accessible here).
For future needs, Bangaluru needs to restore and rejuvenate the many lakes that the city still has.
8. AAP wants unauthorised colonies should be regularised. Thirty percent of Delhi's population lives in such colonies and these should be regularised, &
9. The party demnded to know if the Congress and the BJP will support its decision to give clean and affordable 'pakka houses' (built up houses) to those living in slums.
I have clubbed these two together since they are related. Urbanisation is inevitable. But, instead of everyone crowding into a Delhi or a Bengaluru, leading inevitably to the establishment of slums, they should be facilitated into residing in smaller townships around these mega-cities, which are provided with less than 1-hr affordable connectivity to the mega-city centres. The proposed "Namma Railu " is literally the vehicle for this in Bengaluru. Apparently, there is a similar "commuter rail" proposal in Delhi too (check this), which is indeed the way to go. Regularising unauthorised colonies will only encourage more and more similar unhealthy developments. Pakka housing can thereafter be offered in the outlying townships.
10. It also sought their support to give regular jobs to those working on contractual basis.
This can be done provided labour reforms, allowing for easier sacking of recalcitrant workers (check this debate) and for down-sizing when essential, are simultaneously put in place. Without that, it will be impossible to get any decent levels of productivity from workers.
11. It wants to give infrastructural facilities like roads, electricity, water and basic facilities to the ordinary trader.
Who can have a problem with that? But, why only to traders?
12. AAP said it is against FDI in retail.
Here I agree with ex-AAP member, Surajit Dasgupta, when he says that "Delhi badly needs Foreign Direct Investment in the retail trade that cannot be withdrawn easily. More important, why should an AAP Government favour a small, monopolist, anti-competition trading class to the disadvantage of the large consumer class, more so when its apprehensions about Big Retail are unfounded?" (check this). Apart from this are comments on similar lines from Dr Jayprakash Narayan (check here)
13. The party wants to provide facilities and subsidies to farmers in the villages in the national capital.
Here too, what is needed is comprehensive liberalisation of the agricultural sector, as stated by Dr Jayaprakash Narayan (check this)
14. The party also demanded to know the Congress and BJP's stand on opening 500 government schools, stopping donations in private schools and making the fee system transparent.
The better option perhaps lies in funding children than schools, as detailed here
15. The party said it wanted to open new government hospitals with better facilities.
Heathcare is one sector where government presence is very much needed. But, perhaps what it needs to do is to run a few model hospitals, may be on the lines of AIIMS, with good budgetary support, and leave the rest to the private sector, after putting together a proper regulatory mechanism or ombudsman in place (check the debate here)
16. It also wants to have special security units for women and wants all harassment cases to be tackled within three months, &
17. It wanted to set up enough courts and appoint judges so that all cases are dealt with within six months.
Rather, what is required is comprehensive reforms in all matters related to security - police reforms, judicial reforms, et al - for more, check this
18. The AAP wanted to know whether the municipal corporations of Delhi will support them on these issues.
Like in Bengaluru, in Delhi too, the municipality is in the overall control of BJP, and hence this question. Garnering the support of all stakeholders is what politics all about - it will be interesting to see how AAP goes about it.
The above are apart from the points I had made in a blog posted immediately after the Nirbhaya incident (some issues are common, though) - check here.
Perhaps other Prajagalu too may want to offer their advice - please go ahead - it's another matter whether AAP bothers with it.
Now, the comments by Mr Surajit Dasgupta, in his blog, on the goings on in AAP, are not exactly quite complementary. So, does it make AAP too another Congress or BJP? I would like to believe not quite so. Let's see how things evolve.