Delivering the expected
Aam Aadmi Party rolled out its final budget before the Delhi Assembly elections next year, presenting a massive Rs 60,000 crore budget for fiscal 2019-20. Twice the size of its first budget in 2014-15, the announced budget centred around education, health, and transport with education getting the highest allocation of 26 per cent – Rs 15,000 crore. Developing the education sector has indeed been one of the cornerstones of the current government which has been evident, if not on the ground then at least by the advertisements, for which AAP has been thoroughly condemned by Congress – having spent Rs 611 crore on advertisements. Such statements, however, seldom influence the mandate's opinion for the veracity of the same would be essential. The lowest strata of Delhi's population is clearly inclined towards AAP which is evident right from a simple random conversation. The periphery of Delhi – home to millions who associate themselves with Delhi yet are miles away from the majestic lights of the city – will acknowledge Kejriwal and AAP's impact; unscalable when pitted against Shiela Dixit's Congress which had a 15-year long regime. Manish Sisodia clearly asserted the incompleted projects in AAP's 70-point manifesto were due to the Centre's interference which is a classic episode of Centre-Delhi impasse per se. In a way, AAP could serve all its shortcomings in the same platter of Centre's interference but it would be naive to think that the public holds a juvenile outset of the situation on the ground to believe that AAP is running from its failures. Brought to the helm with a massive majority – quite like BJP at Centre – AAP has initiated development in various sectors such as electricity, water, education as well as social security and welfare. Condemning it for proactively advertising regarding the same is not entirely a personal attack arising out of political rivalry but coming from those who indulge into same when given the opportunity is a bit hypocritical on their front. Instead, let the common man present such criticism. The budget, highest ever for Delhi, is 13.21 per cent more than its predecessor and has been broadly divided into two categories: Projects & Schemes and Establishments & Administration with 27,000 crores and 33,000 crores allocated respectively. Health, Transport, Urban Development and Social Security & Welfare comprise the Projects head and house a variety of schemes targetting the crucial fronts. Rs 2370 crore for Delhi Jal Board and Rs 476 crore for the lifeline water scheme which gives 20 Kilolitres of free water. Further, the government undertook the onus to increase water production by 246 millions of gallons per day by using excess water in the Yamuna during monsoon, groundwater replenishment and controlled extraction. Water, one of the fundamental adversities in the National Capital for the lower strata of the populace, has been well handled on the welfare account. Rs 100 crore for providing Minimum Support Prices to farmers as per recommendations from Swaminathan Commission has been allocated in the wake of the local farmer crisis which is also a national problem. Five new schemes for people with disabilities which includes Fixed Deposit Scheme for the students with disabilities, Financial assistance for marriage of daughters of parents with disabilities, incentives to the students with disabilities to buy scooters & motorised tricycles, the formation of an Institute of Rehabilitation and Allied Services to Persons with Disabilities along with a new programme for skill development & rehabilitation. Reserving 150 crores for its free WiFi promise, the AAP government ensured that the hotspot model will be implemented to provide free WiFi to Delhi alongside 500 crores allocated for the flagship programme of installing 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras which had been stalled due to LG's objection. The Delhi government has, in the opinion of many, presented a populist budget but that is not populist enough as put against that of its Central counterpart. Further, the surge of criticism ensuing from AAP's budget presentation is rather expected. In this context, Shiela's promise of winning all 7 seats in Delhi for LS polls is as uncertain as Congress' claim of AAP's diplomacy in presenting a 'hollow' budget. Four years have been enough for the average Delhi resident to note whether they want to re-elect AAP or not. They have only been ensured of the developmental spree Delhi was subject to since AAP's installation at the helm. The projects and schemes will always be part of any budget and criticism will nevertheless be present but what should garner attention is the unanimous voice which favours AAP over others when it comes to ruling Delhi. And, to hear that unanimous voice, one may not need to walk even a mile for the commoners around will, implicitly or explicitly, cite their preference – which invariably means there has been work done on another tangent – as Modi claims for the entire of India.