Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP, already at loggerheads in Gujarat ahead of the state elections, are now butting heads in Delhi over the coming municipal elections. The flashpoint is the untreated waste of Delhi, which currently is being dumped at the three huge landfill sites of Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla. AAP, which is showcasing its work in the health and education sectors in poll-bound states, has declared that it can replicate the achievement in terms of garbage disposal.
The city’s fourth waste to energy project in Tughlakabad, inaugurated by Union Home Minister Amit Shah today, set off another war of words.
Promising a garbage-free Delhi by 2025, Mr Shah exhorted Delhi to choose between being “AAP Nirbhar” and “Atmanirbhar (self-reliant)”
“The way Kejriwal ji behaved, it is time to respond to it now, in a democratic manner,” he said. Thanking the officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, he said, “A huge step is being taken today to clean up Delhi and I have full faith that before the year 2025, we will find a way to dispose of all the daily garbage of Delhi. In future, these huge garbage dumps, the mountains of garbage, will no longer be seen. Our Delhi will be beautiful”.
Shortly after, Arvind Kejriwal hit back. “You want three more years to do something you could not do in 15 years? You let it be. We will show you how to make Delhi garbage free,” the Delhi Chief Minister said.
In the morning, Mr Kejriwal’s party held a protest near the Bhalswa landfill site to flag the mismanagement of garbage. AAP claims it has a detailed plan in place to tackle the garbage issue once it gets a go-ahead from the people.
The civic bodies in Delhi have been managed by the BJP for three consecutive terms, and AAP, which won a massive mandate in the last two elections in Delhi, hopes to replicate the victory in the civic polls this time.
There is a buzz that the Delhi civic polls could coincide with the assembly elections in Gujarat, where AAP has emerged as the big challenger of the BJP. Initially scheduled for March, the civic polls in Delhi were pushed back, with the Centre saying it wants to merge the three civic bodies.
AAP contended that the BJP was playing for time as it was nervous about the contest, in view of its crushing defeat in Punjab.