Sunday, April 08, 2007

Delhi municipal elections: Congress loses

So the Congress got thrashed in the local Delhi municipal elections. These elections have not been too much of a prestige issue in the past, but this current poll was seen to be very important. The fever was high, campaigning was on a fever-pitch and the local MLA's were involved everywhere. However, the political nature of this campaign was evident everywhere.
Delhi has a number of issues with regard to how the city works. The city is short of generating capacity for power, and inadequate water. It has immigrants pouring into the city at a massive rate, and is ham-strung for power due to the central government being here. All these are in my view, plain excuses. If the Congress Government had the will-power and the interests of the people at heart, things would be much better.
With regard to power, Delhi has a massive amount of power theft, and yet there is not much insistence on tackling this power theft. It required political will to enforce power theft prevention programmes. In addition, Delhi has not attempted new power generation for a long time, instead crying all the time about power being in shortage. It is only when the courts have rapped the government asking for plans to meet power shortage, has the city and union government woken up, and committed for adequate power (not now, but in 3-4 years).
Water ? True, the government claims that Delhi is dependent on water for other states, but has it really tried its best ? Delhi pollutes the Yamuna to a massive extent, and its pollution control half-measures are a joke. As yet, after a large number of years, it does not have anything to show except lot of money spent, files and a much dirtier and water depleted Yamuna. Delhi gets a decent rainfall during the monsoon, and if it really wanted to enforce water harvesting (instead of on file), it would have a good water table that could meet the extra need. Instead, the city has massive water shortage and a very deep water table.
Transport in Delhi (except for the recent Metro - essentially an independent creation) is pretty bad. To get from one point to another point can take a large amount of time, and this has only gotten worse over a period of time. Traffic lights fail suddenly when power goes off, causing massive jams. When the authority knows that power is in shortage, there should be a backup (even solar alternative) for traffic lights.
Instead, the Government keeps on worrying about the sealing having disaffected people and caused them to be anti-Congress. If you go and talk to people living in residential colonies, they will tell you how much they detest the nature of politicians to support anti-sealing efforts (just because politicians get money from the trading community).
The price rise is one point that the Government has got genuinely beaten over. But a prime reason for this is a messaging that is self-sustaining. The Government wants to proclaim how people sensitive it is, and so keeps on claiming that it is trying to push down prices, not realizing that inflation is a seasonal activity to be controlled through monetary and fiscal policies. If you speak too much about it, the independent media is also going to talk more about it, and all the talking is almost always going to be anti-government.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:10 AM