After an unprecedented victory in the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party vowed to make the Capital a "world class city". Though the common man's party aimed to bring revolutionary changes in education, health, power, water and other sectors, a series of strikes by sanitation workers, ongoing tussles with the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre put a spanner in their works.
In an exclusive interview with Anup Verma and Roushan Ali of Millennium Post, senior AAP leader Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia emphasised on working more in sectors like education, health, road transport, water, electricity with an integrated system for the entire city. Sisodia said that if the AAP gets majority in the Corporations, it will make Delhi "garbage-free".
Your party has made Corruption a major issue in MCD elections claiming that the Corporations have failed to deliver services in 10-years' rule of BJP. What is the party's stand over the issue?
The Corporations have failed to execute their duties as the leaders of ruling BJP have entirely focused on corruption and loot of public money. They have pocketed the salary of sanitation workers (safai karmcharis), causing delay in salary-payments. There is no clarity on actual and ghost employees in the Corporations. Revenue generated from parking, advertisement and for sanctioning of building plans have been diverted to Corporation leaders. Money generated from house tax and given by the Delhi government have also not been used for public welfare.
What is your road-map to reduce corruption is MCDs?
Corruption can be seen in two ways: preventive and aftermath. The first one can be stopped by the agency itself, while for the later one, it required Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). When we came in power, the Delhi government's budget was of Rs 32,000 crore; but in a span of two years, it has jumped to Rs 48,000 crore, all because of preventive measures against corruption. If a government or agency stops leakage of money, its revenue and budget will go up. The Delhi government did the same, resulting in a steep hike in revenue as well as budget allocation on various overheads. AAP, after assuming power, took preventive steps so it could check leakage of money from various departments. For the aftermath of corruption, help of vigilance and other concerned departments is needed. As announced earlier, we will also abolish house tax.
As the Delhi government has brought reforms in education and systems under its jurisdiction, is their a concrete plan to improve these facilities under MCDs?
To improve education and healthcare, it required integrated system. Nearly nine lakh students get primary education through Corporation schools and if we want to improve education standards, we will have to start from the primary level. If a student fails to get primary education properly, how can he perform better in the middle and upper level? The level of basic education should be improved. Earlier, Corporation school students faced problems in enrolling themselves in government schools. But after implementing the new system. students are getting admissions easily. Through the system, data of Corporation schools is being provided to government schools and the principals are also being informed through other means. As a result, school authorities are being informed about the students willing to enroll. Similarly, we have a solid plan for healthcare and once we will be in power we will introduce them with priority.
The Centre has given the go-ahead to end the "lal batti" culture in the Counrty and to use VVPAT machines in elections in future. How does the AAP see this?
It was the AAP government which had first decided to end VVIP culture in the state. The government not only stopped use of red beacons, but requested Centre to scrap using it. It is hard to understand why the Centre took the decision after such a long period. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi used red beacons for more than a decade as Gujarat Chief Minister and for three years as Prime Minister. But the AAP government stopped the practice the very first day. Besides this, the government should stop the security cover to VIPs and VVIPs, as it creates a lot of chaos.
How do you see your opponents – BJP and Congress – doing in the upcoming elections, as both have been claiming a victory this time?
Both BJP and Congress are two sides of the same coin. In the history of independent India, not a single BJP and Congress government has reduced power, water and other types of tariff; the AAP government reduced power and water tariff. Governments of these parties are run by mafia, but the AAP government is the first where no mafia is involved.