Delhi and its colossal decline
   04-Feb-2020
Delhi of 2020 will have to make a choice whether to go with AAP, a party that supports those who want to break India and is involved in relentless minority appeasement or go with a party that will put the focus back to development of the national capital
Sumit Bhasin
 
Delhi as a city has always been a perfect blend of art, culture and a modern metropolis. This blend was possible only due to progressive investments in metro, flyovers and other public infrastructure.
 

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 Devastating condition of streets in Delhi
 
During the Vajpayee Government, many questioned the need to invest in infrastructure however, the views of the government were clear: a modern country cannot be built with ancient public infrastructure. It was this thought that led to the plan to create a modern robust transportation system in the form of Delhi Metro to ensure the city could deal with its booming population.
 
The last five years however have the exact opposite as we fail to find any new tangible development projects by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi Government which insists on going back to the age-old model of freebies. No, there is nothing wrong in subsidies but for the fact that more often than not they are unsustainable in nature and impose a severe cost to future generations. We went over the manifesto of Aam Aadmi Party and found that 67 of its 70 promises are yet to be fulfilled. This statistic reveals the systematic failure of governance in Delhi and it also shows the lack of interest of AAP in fulfilling its promises.
 
Two of its key poll issues at the moment appear to be education and healthcare. Unfortunately, their performance in both of them is far from great as found in Delhi Government’s own Economic Survey. On healthcare, their reluctance to implement the Ayushman programme has deprived the poor of Delhi to benefit from state of the art healthcare services available at private hospitals. He claims that healthcare is free in government hospitals but ask any poor citizen, anywhere in India and they’d vouch for private healthcare services as being much better in terms of quality of healthcare than government hospitals. Delhi is no exception to this norm. The very fact that he deprived them of this scheme only because he wanted it to be in his name reveals the true face of Arvind Kejriwal who came into power after alleging scams and claiming a report that indicted the former Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit. Five years forward, and there’s no such report available and he’s forgotten his campaign against corruption.
 
So much that before the Lok Sabha elections, he was desperate to forge an alliance with the same Congress that he swore on his kids to never give or seek support from them in 2013. If he is not an ugly, incorrigible politician then what is? His politics and governance are certainly not new and India saw it before 2014, it rejected it in 2014 and in 2019 at the national level. But what’s more interesting is that despite his campaign against the MCD schools and often interfering with their work, in 2017 AAP lost badly in all three MCD elections. This in itself shows the strong silent disenchantment with his theatrics and model of freebies. People of Delhi are realising that there are no such things as a free lunch and at some point, they will have to pay for these subsidies. This realisation is important as it can signify a substantial shift in Indian politics which is essential should we want to emerge as a truly developed country.
 
But amidst all this politics is also a sad reality which is to do with the state of education in Delhi. He claims to have made a revolution for other states to emulate but this model of education is based on their delusional sense of statistics which underlines the pathetic state of schools in Delhi. Yes, handful of schools have got infrastructure upgrades but teacher shortages are a problem across schools in Delhi. This is often reflected in education outcomes. Moreover, there is a higher rate of students failing in 9th and 11th grade that have to exit the formal education system and this is artificially inflating their 10th and 12th results. This reveals how Delhi’s education department is playing with the future of children of the poor and marginalised communities.
 
What’s worse is the fact that Kejriwal is himself an engineer, but the same option is not available to the poor students of Delhi government schools as less than one third of Delhi government schools provide science as a stream. This reveals the elitist mindset which has deprived students of Delhi to gain the kind of education that the CM would aspire for his own children.
 
The AAP model has been one of hype combined by freebies which has been tried and tested in several parts of the country. If this model worked, then no party would ever lose an election and therefore, it clearly has its own shares of flaws. The defeat of AAP in MCD elections and then coming third in Lok Sabha elections of 2019 mark an underlying silent trend of disenchantment with the party that rode to power on an anti-corruption platform. This disenchantment is partly because of their failure at governance and partly because of them discarding their agenda.
Delhi of 2020 will have to make a choice whether to go with AAP, a party that supports those who want to break India and is involved in relentless minority appeasement or go with a party that will put the focus back to development of the national capital. Very likely, people will vote for the latter.
(The writer is a political analyst)