ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Elections to the Municipal Corporations in Delhi are over a year away, but an aggressive Aam Aadmi Party, keen on wresting the civic authorities, has unleashed an aggressive campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party which has been ruling over the local bodies for three consecutive terms.
An intense war of words has broken out between the AAP and the BJP, with the latest flashpoints being the issue of pollution and the demolition of a Hanuman temple in Chandni Chowk in old Delhi in the course of carrying out a redevelopment project.
The Delhi Assembly’s Environment Committee headed by AAP’s Atishi has pulled up the MCD Commissioners over rising levels of dust and air pollution caused by manual sweeping of roads. All three MCDs have been asked to submit an action plan for reducing dust pollution.
Meanwhile, the demolition of a Hanuman temple in Chandni Chowk has resulted in an exchange of charges between the two parties. Delhi BJP President Adesh Gupta remarked that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may proclaim himself to be a “Hanuman Bhakt” but he did nothing to protect the temple from demolition. Reacting to Gupta, AAP’s MCD in charge Durgesh Pathak accused the BJP-ruled MCD of demolishing the temple and trying to put the blame on the Delhi government.
In December 2020, the Kejriwal government convened a special session of the Delhi Assembly in which a resolution was passed demanding a CBI inquiry into the alleged Rs 2,500 crore scam in the municipal corporations, setting the stage for the confrontation between the AAP and the BJP getting fiercer. The assembly session was held days after AAP leaders, including Atishi and Raghav Chadha, were detained by Delhi Police as they tried to meet Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Home Minister Amit Shah, respectively to raise the issue of the alleged MCD scam.
The AAP has alleged that the BJP-ruled MCDs have been indulging in corruption and money that ought to have been paid as salaries to doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, teachers and other staff has been misappropriated.
The BJP, on the other hand, has accused the Kejriwal government of withholding payment of funds to the MCDs to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore.
Keen to wrest the local bodies, the AAP had in August 2020 appointed teams in all 70 assembly constituencies to prepare the party for the MCD elections scheduled to be held in 2022.
In the previous MCD polls in 2017, the BJP had registered a comprehensive victory, with the AAP, despite its aggressive campaign, ending up as a distant second. A dejected AAP, which had hoped to win the local body elections after its stupendous victory in the Assembly polls in 2015, had blamed its defeat on alleged tampering of EVMs.