Battle of Ideas : Kejriwal Vs Dr. Harshvardhan
Elections in our country are becoming increasingly presidential and in my opinion it is a welcome development because people now know exactly who and what are they voting for. Since Delhi is a small state, the importance of the post of Chief Minister becomes more significant. It would be better if Delhites keep in mind the ideas and vision of Shiela Dikshit, Arvind Kejriwal and Dr. Harsh Vardhan rather than the completely going by the performance of their local MLA.
Shiela Dikshit has been the CM of Delhi for the last 15 years and undoubtedly she has done some good work. Getting elected CM twice in a row is not mean achievement. Roads, Metro expansion, beautiful flyovers and staging of Commonwealth Games surely helped Delhi leapfrog in to the league of a global metropolis. But for the past five years, be it maintenance of law and order, governance failure, humongous corruption, lack of women security exacerbated by shocking indifference to it, inflated power bills, she has proved to be a colossal failure. Delhi needs leadership change. NOW
But Aam Aadmi Party, the self-proclaimed change moghul, torchbearer of all purity in public life, doesn’t seem to be a viable alternative to me. Its leader, Arvind Kejriwal comes across as an upright, honest, brave, bleeding heart liberal, a communist of the league of Stalin and an urban Marxist, who conveys an impression that he has no idea on complexities involved in issues related to policy, economics, governance in general or even corruption (his favorite rhetorical topic) let alone solving them. Paraphrasing Jonah Goldberg, he is turning out to be a political version of the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle – the more closely you study him, the less clearly defined he becomes.
Not to mention, his team includes the distinguished Maoist sympathizer Binayek Sen (part of the reforms teams) and anarchist-advocate Prashant Bhushan, whose endorsement of secessionist views on Kashmir is in the realm of public domain.
The other less pertinent issues – like foreign funding, giving tickets to tainted candidates, running to the nearest murder endorsing mullah on finding himself struggling to win Muslims support, also assumes importance given that Kejriwal, in all his self-righteousness, sets such high standards for others.
Why should he be judged any less harshly?
As someone engaged deeply with public policy, I am really tired of this entire rabble rousing and rhetorical escalation. I am utterly disgusted with the poor media narrative and political discourse in general where rhetoric takes front seat and all important issues left far behind.
So, this is my attempt at diverting the discourse towards debating major issues of Delhi and vision of two CM candidates representing the change in status quo. Let’s look at what’s ailing Delhi and what prescriptions Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Arvind Kejriwal have for that.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): Highest level of transparency through e-governance at every interface between the government and the society. Single window, strictly time bound file clearance system.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): BJP and Congress are both corrupt, the only way Delhi can be graft free is if we come to power. We will bring Jan Lokpal Bill.
(Name calling, ‘Holier than thou’ attitude, no specific solutions, but yes there is a magic wand – Janlokpal, that will take care of everything)
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): Modernize grid, Curb transmission losses and cut power thefts. It is estimated that a 1% reduction in TandD losses generates annual savings of Rs.700- 800 Crore. Losses have come down by 32 per cent from 2002-2007 but govt. is not forcing the private power distribution companies to reduce tariffs.
We will make sure they oblige. People in poor colonies “steal” power and are therefore responsible for the high TandD losses. Far more power theft takes place in the richer parts of Delhi. The BJP will strive for reducing power tariffs in newly authorized colonies and rehabilitation colonies. This will go a long way towards promoting greater upward mobility among the weaker economic groups.
A project to set up industrial units in the joint sector between govt. and reputed private sector partners for mass manufacture of photo-voltaic cells, reflectors, etc. will be examined. Over the next five years the ground will be prepared for generating solar power for meeting at least 10 % of Delhi’s power needs.
On the issue of Inflated Power Bills: Compulsory CAG audit of all the accounts of all private companies providing electricity in Delhi. If the companies do not fall in line, get other companies for competition to get these prices down. Plus if the solar power issue is adequately taken care of we can equip and strengthen every house with solar energy which will be making them self sufficient, and they can even have access to power which they can sell to the grid and they can even have carbon credits. This will help bring down their electricity bills.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): CAG audit of all the private companies distributing power in the state + RTI, Janlokpal, Swaraj.(He cut electricity connections of all those who couldn’t pay their electricity bills, wonder what would happen if he comes to power? Maybe all electricity bills of the ‘poor’ will be waived? To his credit though, he has promised, AAP won’t provide free electricity to anybody)
Inflation and Price rise:
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): Most of the time cause of inflation is hoarding and it happens because there is an unholy alliance within the govt system and the hoarders and the traders whosoever are dealing with the system and the government turns a blind eye. So there has to be a food crisis commission, a body of experts form various fields like agriculture etc., they will have a close watch on the system.
They will report directly to the chief of the govt. They will actually ensure and suggest various measures. It will be some sort of a proactive action for ensuring that the inflation and price rise is checked.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): We’ll introduce Jan Lokpal Bill within a month of coming to power. We’ll make Delhi corruption free and then we’ll take various steps to check price rise and inflation also. (Sab samasyaaon ka Ilaaj – RTI, Janlokpal aur Swaraj?)
JJ Clusters and Illegal Colonies:
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): There should be a humanistic approach to this issue. There should be 50% allocation of dwelling units for the poor in government housing projects. The in-situ rehabilitation of slums and JJ clusters will be implemented, using land as a resource Built-up accommodation of about 25 sq.metre area in multi-storied structures would be allotted in place of 18 sq. metres and 12.5 sq. metre plots.
There would be compulsory construction of at least 35 per cent of dwelling units or 15 per cent of permissible FAR, whichever is higher in the form of EWS units, by all developers of group housing. The organising of the residents of JJs, resettlement colonies, etc. into Self-Help Groups would lead to considerable improvement in living standards.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): AAP will regularize all unauthorized colonies in Delhi within one year. (Not only it’s criminal to do so but also against court orders, but anything for votes? No vision here too, typical voter appeasement)
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): There is plenty of water for all. There is need for better distribution and plugging of all leaks in the delivery system. The monitoring of water management must be transparent and scientific. Delhites must learn water harvesting and recycling.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): There is no dearth of water, the water distribution system is flawed, in fact there is a water tanker mafia in Delhi, the mafia is run by Congress and BJP, both. If this mafia is tackled then there is no water shortage. We’ll provide 700 litres of water free of cost daily to Delhiites. (Rhetoric again, no vision and yes Free! Free! Free! + how much will govt. have to spend on tankers for supply of that free water? No problem guys, he thinks Govt. has no dearth of money)
Law and Order:
Dr. Harsh Vardhan (BJP): Delhi police is the main culprit since it’s not answerable to local govt but to Home Ministry. It should be under Delhi state govt. However, even within the prevailing restrictions, much can be done. The Home Guard force must be made more vibrant. They could be utilised for policing the lane inside the colonies. Bicycles/scooters can be provided to them so that they can move about more smoothly. The assistance of the RWAs must be sought in making the movement of women and children safer.
The influx of Bangladeshis has become a serious problem for law and order governance in Delhi. Strong and efficient measures must be taken for identification and deportation of illegal foreigners.
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP): Delhi police should be under State government and not Home Ministry. Also, we’ll form a commando force for protection of women and senior citizens. Every ward will have 20-25 commandos for providing security to women and senior citizens.
They will not be meant for maintaining law and order. They will be there to come for help whenever it’s needed by women and senior citizens.(Both of their views are more or less same on law and order and commendable indeed)
There are other issues – Education, Health, Environment, Employment, Urban Development, Yamuna etc but it becomes one sided discussion with detailed food for thought from Harsh Vardhan but only RTI, Janlokpal and Swaraj as answer to all problems from Kejriwal.(Harsh Vardhan’s views on these issues can be found here.
Our media is the major culprit here for poor discourse on policies and issues. It keeps asking same stupid useless questions in interviews and don’t whet the candidates properly.
From this, I hope it is now evidently clear that while Harsh Vardhan has a nuanced, well planned roadmap for the state, Kejriwal comes across as a typical nutjob of Nehruvian school of thought with the same policies of big daddy government because of which we are in this mess in the first place.
Honestly, I see many Delhi voters getting confused between Kejriwal and the BJP. I hope this little effort of mine will help those rational voters in choosing the right candidate in the upcoming polls.
Wish Delhites all the best.
Taken from various video interviews of Kejriwal and Harsh Vardhan.
Harsh Vardhan’s views are mainly compiled from his official website
Some excerpts taken from this CNN-IBN interview of Shiela Dikshit, Arvind Kejriwal and Harsh Vardhan.