With only two days left for the civic polls, the political parties in Delhi engaged in a bitter war of words as they highlighted their achievements and promises, setting the tone for a keen contest on April 23. In the last lap of hectic campaigning, a bitter war of words ensued after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the people would “risk” the health of their children if they voted for the BJP in the polls as it had failed to provide proper sanitation to the citizen. “If someone in your home falls ill then you are responsible because you voted for the party which is synonymous with chikhungunya, malaria, dengue and garbage,” Kejriwal said.
Reacting sharply, BJP New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, without naming Arvind Kejriwal, said that his government had spent funds on “self promotion” instead of publicity to make people aware of diseases like dengue and chinkungunya that have become a major health hazards in the last few years in Delhi. “Such a thing can be said only by a man having a brain of a mosquito. His government spent Rs 526 crore on publicity of his party and its leaders instead of telling the people how to fight against dengue and chikungunya,” Lekhi said.
Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit also criticised the Kejriwal’s statement, saying that as ususal he is passing the responsibility on others. “Being a chief minister, he is supposed to help the municipal corporations if they are in need,” she said. The 2017 civic body polls, across 272 wards, is scheduled on April 23 and the counting of voters will take place on April 26.
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The BJP, the Congress and the AAP are locked in a triangular contest. Before 2012, there was one unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi. During the Sheila Dikshit regime, it was trifurcated into three bodies – North, South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations. The BJP has been ruling the civic bodies since 2007. The BJP will be looking to retain the three civic bodies, while the AAP, which had failed in the recent Assembly polls in Punjab and Goa, will try to make a mark in this election. The Congress too is trying to regain their lost ground.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari concluded his party’s poll campaign – Vijay Vikas Yatra – by offering special prayer at the Kalkaji temple for the party’s victory. He asserted that his party will win over 200 seats in the elections. “Why would not people vote for us. We have given them life insurance for Re 1, free liquified petroleum gas (LPG) connection to poor women,” he said, referring to the Modi government’s schemes.
Kejriwal today also accused the BJP of trying to cover up its “corruption and failure” in the local bodies by seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also cast doubt on the Election Commission’s insistence on the use of the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
He said that the BJP’s strategy would not work as people know that the three municipal corporations will not be run by Modi, but by the BJP’s local leaders who have failed in their job in the past 10 years. A few hours before the close of campaigning this evening, BJP leader Vijender Gupta hit out at Kejriwal by accusing his cabinet colleague Satyendar Jain of being involved in corruption. “The CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry against Satyendar Jain for corruption and misuse of power in purchasing agricultural land but Chief Minister Kejriwal is saving him,” alleged Gupta, who is Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly.
Gupta was leading the party’s campaign in “exposing” the alleged scams in the Kejriwal government during the electioneering. The AAP hit back by putting up a hoarding that showed Gupta’s face with a scowl and a smiling Kejriwal, asking people by whom would they like to be ruled. He retaliated with a complaint against the AAP at the State Election Commission. “We are committed to revive the municipal corporations financially by eradicating corruption and ending mismanagement witnessed by them during 10 year old rule of BJP,” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said.
Maken and Congress, during the campaign, demanded the registration of an FIR against Kejriwal, his ministers and officials of his government, based on the findings of Shunglu Committee report. The DPCC chief had put the report in public domain during the campaigning.