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KEJRIWAL’S CAP OF CHALLENGES

Arvind Kejriwal waves to supporters before attending a meeting with his party members at the Constitutional Club in New Delhi on Monday. Picture by Yasir Iqbal

Arvind Kejriwal on Monday staked claim to form the government in Delhi, capping an eye-popping debut in power politics.

Listed below are some of the promises the Aam Aadmi Party made in its manifesto and the challenges it may face while trying to implement them

PROMISE

Will reduce consumers’ electricity expenditure by 50 per cent

Challenge: “Simply impossible,” says Shakti Sinha, the former power secretary of Delhi. The retired IAS officer claimed that around 70 per cent of per unit cost charged by the distribution companies was the “cost of procurement” and it would be tough for the generating companies to reduce the price without incurring losses.

The cost of electricity procured by distribution companies in Delhi is Rs 4.50 per unit, which goes up to Rs 5.25 a unit after transmission or wheeling charges. “Going by this figure, the average tariff of electricity should be around Rs 6.25 per unit,” Sinha said, factoring in salary and other expenses and some profit by the distribution companies. Domestic consumers in Delhi are now charged Rs 3.90 per unit for the first 200 units, Rs 5.80 for 201 to 400 units and Rs 6.80 for 401 to 800 units

What the AAP proposes to do The AAP says it is possible to achieve the reduction in four months. The party plans to audit the accounts of private companies engaged in distribution. It hopes that the audit will find that the bills were inflated and it will rectify the expected mistake.

“Just wait and see how we do it. Within the first two months, we will approach the CAG and also a private firm to audit the accounts of the distribution companies,” says a senior AAP leader.

But a former bureaucrat says: “Some reduction can be achieved by the audits but not by 50 per cent. At best, 50 per cent of the roughly 15 per cent earnings made by the distribution companies”

PROMISE

All households in Delhi will get water in their homes, irrespective of whether they are in slums or in unauthorised colonies. Households using up to 700 litres a day will be given free water

Challenge: The exchequer will need to spend around Rs 400-500 crore to keep this promise. It is not clear from where the money will be raised. Delhi had run up an estimated budget deficit of Rs 2,921 crore in 2012-13, which was supposed to have been cut to Rs 1,268 crore in the current financial year

What the AAP proposes to do AAP leaders say it can be easily achieved by giving subsidies and cracking down on corruption in the Delhi Jal Board. “The Jal Board currently does not keep an account of how much water is received from different sources and how much water is supplied to each area. Bulk meters will be installed and their data put on a website,” according to the AAP manifesto

PROMISE

A citizens’ security force will be formed with a branch in each ward. The force will provide security to anyone in distress, especially women, children and senior citizens

Challenge: “Law and order in Delhi is under the central government. The state government has no powers,” says former Delhi police commissioner Ved Marwah. Serving police officers say the police already have the concept of “community policing”. If the new government decides to set up a citizens’ force, it will possibly consist of AAP supporters and has “the potential to turn into vigilante groups”, adds an officer

What the AAP proposes to do AAP leaders say the force will consist of common citizens. It will coordinate with the police and ensure the safety and security of women, children and senior citizens

PROMISE

Swaraj (self-rule). Decisions about development in any locality to be taken by “mohalla sabhas”. Payment for any work will be released only after approval by the “mohalla sabhas

Challenge: Delhi is full of residents’ welfare associations in middle and upper middle class colonies and they restrict the entry of slum-dwellers and the poorer sections into gated colonies. The constitution of the “mohalla sabhas” may lead to fissures over representation

What the AAP proposes to do AAP leaders say “Swaraj” is the dream of Kejriwal and it will be achieved at any cost. Kejriwal, who has penned a book titled Swaraj, has also prepared a blueprint to empower the people.

On Monday, he spent over two hours explaining to his party’s MLAs how he proposes to implement “Swaraj”. “To start with, mohalla sabhas will decide how the MLA development fund would be used. Slowly the sabhas would take the call about all development money to be spent by the government,” says an AAP leader

PROMISE

People living in slums will be rehabilitated on site or as near as possible to the existing location

Challenge: Not clear where the money to build houses will come from. The AAP manifesto does not propose to impose new taxes to mop up funds or use the public-private partnership route

What the AAP proposes to do AAP leaders acknowledge that it is not easy to achieve the target and point out that it is a long-term goal. “For the time being, the stress of the government will be on providing the basic amenities in the slums. People would be more than happy if we can achieve this much,” an AAP leader says.