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As AAP Sweeps MCD Polls, Civic Woes Linger For Kejriwal's Bandwagon

Now that AAP is in power in the MCD as well, If it wants to continue dominating in upcoming elections in the city, it must accept responsibility for Delhi's civic problems and find answers.

MCD polls: AAP celebrates victory
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Crossing the halfway mark of 134 seats, Aam Aadmi Party has finally dislodged the Bharatiya Janata Party from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), breaking the streak of fifteen years. As per the current trends, BJP got around 104 seats while Congress could secure only nine. Perhaps the results are not shocking for the BJP, as they were facing a huge anti-incumbency that brewed over a span of their being in power for three terms. To sink its nails in the boat, BJP deployed party stalwarts including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and UP CM Yogi Adityanath for the election campaigning activities. 

The anti-defection law does not apply in MCD elections, a councillor may change parties without worrying about being disqualified, and this might keep BJP’s ship afloat. As only 126 seats are required for the majority, if the BJP ploys to woo some councillors from other parties, they can have their mayor, a fact which is likely to make maintaining MCD an uphill task for the AAP, and the latter has to struggle for maintaining the trust of their councillors.

This election was very important for AAP, given the recent reunification of MCD. The Union government's decision to reunify three MCDs – North, South, and East into one – had created two centres of power in Delhi. A power struggle would have ensued if the BJP had won the MCD. Reunification necessitated a fresh delimitation exercise, which delayed the elections and decreased the number of wards from 272 to 250.

Confident AAP was still expecting a better outcome. In their campaigns, they claimed they would win even 230 seats. Even the majority of exit polls predicted that AAP would win easily with more than 150 seats. But it did not happen. Because the AAP had to cope with anti-incumbency in the Delhi assembly,  thus, this outcome serves as a wake-up call for the Kejriwal-led party. 

Incidentally, the voter turnout was also only 50.48%, which means just over 73 lakh people out of 1.45 crore voters voted in the capital city’s municipal polls. 

However, It is interesting how dramatic this MCD election was. In contrast to the so-called corruption-free image AAP promotes, it was the target of major corruption allegations and sting operations which were allegedly machinated by the incumbent BJP. BJP produced tapes showing AAP's Satyendar Jain receiving special treatment in jail. It also accused AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi of asking for money against the nomination for the MCD election. The cascading spate of these allegations was followed by the arrests of Om Singh and Shiv Shankar Pandey, who were relatives of Tripath by the Anti Corruption Bureau.  

The now-scrapped liquor policy, the Delhi Jal Board controversy and the alleged transport scam remained contentious issues as BJP never wanted to let go of the opportunity to accrue the benefits of anti-incumbency against AAP owing to its policies in Delhi. However, AAP largely kept itself on raising a string of mundane issues like Delhi’s garbage landfills, potholes in the street, and parking among others, to sail through.

Now that AAP is in power in the MCD as well, If it wants to continue dominating in upcoming elections in the city, it must accept responsibility for Delhi's civic problems and find answers. Delhi’s garbage disposal problem is a sisyphussian task along with finding ways to tackle the woes of air pollution. These issues, incidentally,  remained as well the major poll issues for this election for Kejriwal’s bandwagon. 

Three major landfill sites – Bhalswa, Okhla, and Ghazipur are metaphors for Delhi’s civic woes. But, flattening these sites and solving the garbage problem is challenging. In Delhi, around 8,700 tonnes per day (TPD) of garbage got generated. Out of which, 8,000 TPD of waste reaches three landfill sites at Bhalswa, Okhla, and Ghazipur. So, it will be interesting, how Arvind Kejriwal would take this responsibility. 

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