Delhi MCD polls 2017: Cleanliness, graft issues in focus

By: | Published: March 5, 2017 6:13 PM

The issues of corruption and cleanliness are expected to prominently figure in the keenly fought civic elections in Delhi, due in April, with political parties planning to bank on youth and women candidates.

The MCD elections, which had so far remained a clash between the BJP and the Congress, assume greater significance this time with the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Swaraj India into the fray. (IE)

The issues of corruption and cleanliness are expected to prominently figure in the keenly fought civic elections in Delhi, due in April, with political parties planning to bank on youth and women candidates. The BJP, which has been ruling the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs) for 10 years, however, would go to the people highlighting the improvement in works done by the civic bodies in the last couple of years.

The MCD elections, which had so far remained a clash between the BJP and the Congress, assume greater significance this time with the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Swaraj India into the fray.

The Congress wants to highlight the “failure” of the BJP-ruled MCDs — East Delhi Municipal Corporation, North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation — in the past 10 years and the AAP-led state dispensation in the governance of the national capital.

“They (BJP and AAP) have let down Delhi in a big way and whatever responsibilities were entrusted to them, they have failed to deliver. For the first time, one can find such large numbers of potholes on roads, this is unprecedented.

“On sanitation front, a record number of cases of vector-borne diseases were reported in the last two years,” Ajay Maken, the Delhi unit chief of the Congress, told PTI.

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Alleging corruption in the MCDs, Maken said Delhi has come to a standstill in terms of the delivery of civic services.

He also pitched for starting a fixed deposit to make the civic bodies financially self-reliant, like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

The MCDs do various things in Delhi but the most important thing that everyone remembers and blames them for is cleanliness, said Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj Abhiyan president.

“Delhi has suffered more than once on account of cleanliness, including smog, dust and filth on roads and dirty water. It saw one of the worst phases of air pollution in the month of November (2016) and has been through dengue/ chikungunya epidemic. Delhi has seen this dirt piling on the city roads for days no end,” he said, adding, “This is the time to seek accountability.”

Yadav, whose Swaraj India makes electoral debut with the MCD polls, said, “For us, therefore, the principal plank of our Delhi campaign is going to be cleanliness. We don’t want to promise too many things which we can’t deliver because MCD has limited powers in Delhi but one thing that MCD can do is to deliver cleanliness which is what we propose to focus on.”

The AAP, which won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in Delhi, will rely on its pet anti-corruption agenda to make a mark in civic body polls.

“The BJP and the Congress have indulged in corruption in the civic bodies for the last 20 years. It is the time for the broom (the AAP symbol) to wipe out corruption from the MCDs,” AAP’s Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey had said recently.

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), a partner of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre with almost no presence in Delhi politics, will also aim to capture some wards banking on the anti-graft plank.

“I feel corruption exists in the MCDs, otherwise the problems of people would have been solved and there would have been proper development in the wards,” Chirag Paswan, chairman of LJP’s Parliamentary Board, said recently.

The BJP, however, claimed that the AAP government posed obstructions in the working of the MCDs.

“Delhi is a city of special status, people are not really aware of whose limits begin and end where. For example, disbursing pension money is the Delhi government’s job but to facilitate the process, the MCD works as a mediator to disburse this money. But there has been pendency in payment of such pensions to women and the elderly for last two years,” said Shyam Jaju, Delhi unit in-charge of the BJP.

“We need to expose those who are responsible for this. They have only made announcements, but never delivered,” he said, alleging, “The Delhi government is not working on issues related to the departments under it, like primary education, health, roads, PWD.”

Stressing that the MCDs have made progress in the last couple of years and their performance has improved, Jaju said, “The Delhi government is obstructing development here and has often claimed credit for the works done by the municipal corporations. We will go to the people with all these issues.”

On the selection of candidates, the AAP and the Swaraj India, both of which have announced some candidates for the elections to 272 wards, are preferring women and youths.

“We think the Aam Aadmi Party is of the youth. There are conscious efforts (by us) that women should get more prominence in politics. In unreserved seats, we preferred a woman where we had a choice between male and female aspirants,” Delhi Chief Minister and party supremo Arvind Kejriwal had said recently.

The Swaraj India too has made it clear with its announcement of candidates so far that youths and women will be given preference by it.

The Congress, which is involving grass-root workers for the selection of candidates for the 272 wards and making area-specific strategies, asserted that it was during its regime that women’s representation on at least 50 per cent seats was made mandatory.

The BJP, however, stressed on striking a balance between women, youths and Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates. “It should be remembered that the law of having at least 50 per cent women candidates in MCDs was brought by the Congress. Earlier the amendment for one-third reservation for women was also brought by the Congress. It is the Congress party which has forced every party to choose at least 50 per cent women candidates,” Maken told PTI.

The LJP has so far announced 30 candidates, 15 of them women. It is planning to field nominees on maximum seats in the absence of a tie-up with the BJP.

Jaju said, “Strong candidates who have good, grass-roots level hold in their local areas will be given preference. There would be a good balance of women, youths and scheduled caste candidates while elective merit will remain criteria for their selection.”

BJP sources, however, said more youth candidates may get a chance this time around to quell the anti-incumbency factor that the party is faced with.

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