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Given the uproar over inflated electricity and water bills in the capital—this was Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s main platform—the small number of people involved in his bijli paani aandolan comes as a bit of a letdown. Just 24,036 people, the Delhi government’s press release reads, participated in this movement and refused to pay their bills. Lest it be said the Aam Aadmi Party is like other political parties and does not honour its promises, the Delhi government has announced a 50% subsidy on these pending bills along with a full waiver of penalties. This money, due to the electricity companies, will still be paid, but by the Delhi government in the same way that the chief minister kept his word and made a 50% cut in electricity tariffs—for those consuming under 400 units a month, half the bill is to be paid by the Delhi government. This, it is true, is not the same as making the power companies cut their tariffs by half, but the chief minister will argue, it is a start.
For the bulk of the Aam Aadmi Party’s supporters, though, the move has to be disappointing. Around 23 lakh people voted for
Kejriwal’s party in the Delhi elections, but barely 1% of them have got the latest largesse. That, however, is a narrow way of looking at things, Kejriwal’s PR machinery would do well to point out. For one, if more people had faith in Kejriwal and had not paid their bills,
they too would have benefitted—so the fault lies in us, to quote
Shakespeare, not in our stars. Two, it was the AAP’s power cuts of
R20 crore a month that led to Haryana’s copycat subsdies of R50 crore a month and Maharashtra's R700 crore—that’s a lot of impact. If only Kejriwal would launch a tax aandolan now.