AAP government slashes budget for a major electoral promise by 98%

Aam Aadmi Party has been the latest major addition to the Indian politics and its rise has been nothing short of meteoric. After being launched in November 2012, the party enjoyed spectacular electoral success when it won 67 out of 70 seats in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections.

Apart from riding a strong anti-corruption plank and its supposed commitment towards providing clean transparent governance, one of the factor which contributed towards the party’s success were its election promises.

Certain promises like providing subsidized power and free water have been fulfilled, but other major promises that need actual groundwork to get going are languishing in oblivion.

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One such major promise was the installment of CCTV cameras in Delhi Transport Corporation buses. This was pegged as an instrumental step towards ensuring women safety. But now just as the party look like fading from electoral limelight, this promise too might slowly be becoming history.

As per latest reports, the Delhi Government has decided to slash the Rs 100 crore budget earmarked for this project by a whooping 98%. An internal audit of the transport department till January 2017 showed that for the 2016-17 fiscal, the state government’s allocation for the project was slashed from Rs 90 crore to a paltry Rs 1 crore and the center’s contribution was brought down from Rs 10 crore to Rs 1 crore.

One of the issues why the project is unable to take off is the dispute between the Delhi Transport Corporation and the state transport department over who should be in-charge of the project. This issue has occupied matters so much that there has been zero utilization of the allocated amount for the scheme.

This isn’t the only scheme whose future is in the limbo, other promises like free Wi-Fi, women protection force, and a Jan Lokpal are also pending.

No funds were apparently allocated for the free Wi-Fi project during the Delhi government’s 2017-18 budget. The explanation afforded was that the government was still figuring out which transmission model to use for the deployment. Some models in contention were laying fiber optic cables or setting up of hotspots.

The status of the Delhi’s Lokpal is that as claimed by AAP government sources the bill has been passed by them but is pending approval of the center. Even if the lokpal bill is passed and enacted, there seem to be certain fundamental issues which might render it ineffective. The bill reportedly has not provided the Lokpal with the power to appoint its own staff, has no independent budget, has no dedicated investigation wing and can only recommend action against individuals and bodies rather than taking them.

Another promise of the party was the setting up of a citizen security force for women’s safety. This too seems to be pending and no funds have been allocated for this in the 2017-18 budget. The justification provided by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was that this security force and its functioning came under the Delhi police, which was completely under the authority of the Center.

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