While criticising the political parties for making ‘insincere pledges promising everything to everybody’ Aam Adami Party (AAP) too in its Election Manifesto not only promised freebies, it also made high sounding promises without considering the constraints. This write-up attempts reality-check of 10 such promises.
(1) Jan Lokpal
Promise: Enforcement of Jan Lokpal Act within 15 days of coming to power to control corruption strictly and effectively.
Reality check: AAP is no longer in a hurry to fulfil this promise. In any case, Lokpal alone is no panacea. Real challenge is to have honest and effective machinery. The government’s plans to increase its activities will significantly increase the number of public officials, putting too much pressure on Lokapal. Lengthy legal process to prove offence and get court verdict will be frustrating.
(2) Devolution of Power to People
Promise: Law to be enacted to set up a Mohalla Sabha (MS) in each Mohalla; all adults of the Mohalla will meet every month to take care of almost all local issues, from maintenance of streetlights to communal harmony.
Reality check: The idea is based on unrealistic assumption that hundreds of people would meet every month to take stock of and solve all local problems. Most of the localities may not have space for such meetings. Implementation or monitoring cannot be done by unwieldy MS. Perhaps AAP expects thousands of its party workers to make the plan a success. The danger is that these MSs would become centres of power for ambitious AAP workers that would lead to inter-party and intra-party rivalries. (Read “AAP’s Utopian Concept of Swaraj” on NarainD.blogspot.com.)
(3) Cheap Power
Promise: To reduce electricity bill by 50%; power distribution companies should purchase power from economical sources; government to set up ultra-mega power project (UMPP) to meet peak demand-supply deficit.
Reality check: Power bill has been halved for monthly consumption up to 400 units; if the limit is exceeded, consumer will have to pay full charges on entire consumption. Relying on tariff of Rs. 1.19 quoted about eight years ago by Reliance Power Ltd. for its UMPP in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi’s power minister says ‘the cost of generation can be as low as P. 70/ unit.’ He should know that the company has approached the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission for upward revision of tariff. UMPP is beyond the UT government’s resources. Cost of generation varies from plant to plant depending on several factors. UP, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are getting quotations in the range of Rs. 5.40 - 5.90/ unit. AAP will get an idea when feasibility reports for coal mine, power plant and related projects are prepared. Instead of asking distribution companies to “purchase power from economical sources” AAP government should identify such an economical source. Better, it should buy directly from “economical sources”.
(4) Free Water.
Promise: Every household with metered water connection to get 20 KLs of piped water free every month.
Reality check: Government has announced free monthly supply of 20 KLs of piped water with a rider that when consumption exceeds 20 KLs, entire consumption would be charged. To compensate for the loss, on March 19 the government hiked the rate by 10%. While well-off households in which normally members’ number is small would benefit, poor households with large families would be hit hard especially when there are guests or someone has stomach trouble, more so because of recently hiked rate. (Read “Kejriwal’s water-loo” on NarainD.blogspot.com.)
(5) School Education
Promise: To open 500 new schools and appoint 17000 new competent teachers to lower the student-teacher ratio; standard of education in government schools to be equal to the best private schools.
Reality check: The supply side has been ignored. Quality of education is poor primarily because of serious shortage of trained and competent teachers throughout India. Nearly 50% of posts remain vacant. Teachers’ training schools are also very inadequate.
(6) Public Healthcare
Promise: High-quality healthcare facilities to all citizens; new government hospitals to ensure international norm of 5 beds for every thousand people as against existing 0.58; to open 900 primary health centres; to immediately fill vacancies of 4000 doctors and 15,000 nurses in government hospitals.
Reality check: AAP has ignored supply side. The country is facing shortage of around 2 million doctors and 4 million nurses. Moreover, doctors are either going abroad or opting for better prospects in private hospitals or private practice.
(7) Public Toilets
Promise: Construction of 2 lakh new public toilets (including one lakh for women) mainly in public spaces and slum areas; Mohalla Sabhas to monitor maintenance.
Reality check: In the absence of regular cleaning, public toilets will become dirtiest places in the city. Assuming 4 public toilets at one place and 8 hourly duties for each cleaner, 3 lakh cleaners (including 1.5 lakh women) would be needed. Can the UT government find and employ so many cleaners? Thousands of social workers would be needed for regular monitoring.
(8) Women’s Rights and Safety
Promise: Measures promised include (a) effective last-mile connectivity – by providing combination of shared autos, feeder services and e-rickshaws synced with Metro and bus timings – in Delhi’s public transit to reduce number of crimes, (b) Women’s Security Force made up of 10,000 strong home guard, (c) 500 bus marshals to prevent crime on public transport, (d) Surakha/SOS button on every mobile phone and (e) connectivity to the police, nearest PCR van, relatives and volunteers.
Reality check: Implementation and maintenance would require elaborate machinery. The government would realise the complications only when detailed feasibility reports are prepared for introduction of these measures.
(9) Improving Delivery of Justice
Promise: New courts to be opened and more judges to be appointed; if required, courts will be run in two shifts; special courts to be set up to decide cases pending in lower courts; proceedings of all court cases to be video recorded and made available to citizens.
Reality check: District courts are under the administrative and judicial control of the High Court. Non-availability of large number of judges is another constraint.
(10) Protecting Common Man from Rising Prices
Promise: Black marketers to be arrested, their godowns raided and their hoarded goods to be released so that food grains, vegetables and fruits are available at lower prices.
Reality check: Government has power to take stringent action against black marketers and hoarders but prices in Delhi cannot be very much different from prices in adjoining areas.
Wait and watch.
March 21, 2015
AK could fufil the promise of cheap power and free water because all that he had to do was to use public fund to give subsidy. It is not an achievement.
April 18, 2017
For a review of track record of Kejriwal government after two years, visit: