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Blame game

“If (the) Municipal Corporation Department (MCD) is not working then Bharatiya Janata Party should resign. Aam Aadmi Party will turn MCD into a profit-making venture within a year,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while speaking at the vote-on-account, which was presented in the Assembly by state Finance Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday. Kejriwal had also charged that the prevailing corruption in the three civic bodies was the main reason behind the financial stand-off between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party. He further alleged that if BJP could not bear the burden of running the Municipal Corporation of Delhi properly and effectively; then the party should leave it for AAP to handle. In the same vein, Kejriwal also pointed fingers in the direction of the Central government and held them responsible for any water crisis that may arise in Delhi in future.

Even if these allegations are true; they do little to alleviate the mess that the BJP managed MCD finds itself in. The North and East Delhi municipal corporations are currently cash-strapped and unable to pay their staff for the past two months. There are fears that a large section of these workers may soon go on strike. The East Delhi municipal corporation finds itself in the precarious situation of needing Rs 600 crore just to clear its debts; let alone entertain the possibility of stabilising its depleted finances.

This unavoidable situation has been precipitated by the fact that for a long while almost all the three municipal corporations were running deficit budgets; with a huge grand canyon-like gap between revenue and expenditure. The BJP may argue that running the MCD smoothly required poor financial accounting on their part. This claim, however, can be easily dismissed by the reality that poor financial accounting alone can’t result in debts worth Rs 600 crore. Incompetence and corruption could also be probable factors for this situation.

Politically the AAP move to point fingers at BJP is a shrewd one. It automatically diverts attention from the internal churn that AAP has been going through of late. Be that as it may, if Kejriwal wants his allegations against opposition parties not to be interpreted by the voting public as typical political bluster and mudslinging, then he has to take heed of the yawning gap between what the AAP has promised and what it has delivered so far. Rather than pointing fingers at opposing parties, AAP must earnestly focus on the daunting challenge of fulfilling the promises it had made in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections. Anything less than that will be self-defeating for a party, which has rode into power riding on a massive wave of public optimism.
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