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Façade of Delhi model cracking, AAP resorts to political blabber

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By Sidharth Mishra

In the ongoing political tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the apologists for the former have been quick to point out that Arvind Kejriwal has turned tables on the BJP. They say that he has managed to change the narrative in the public domain from excise scam to comparison between Delhi’s education model with other states especially those ruled by the BJP.

The elucidation of these apologists accompany daily output of the ‘AAP certifying agency’, which has been working overtime calling its baiters corrupt and giving itself ‘clean chit’ in corruption charges. These are difficult times for the AAP, though its thick skinned leadership may deny it. The ruling party in NCT Delhi hopping from one gimmick to another shows that for once AAP’s barbs-laced politics is not working.

First calling one day special session of the assembly, then extending it by another day to seek vote of confidence when nobody demanded it. This is followed by night-long dharna in Delhi assembly premises demanding resignation of the Lieutenant Governor and finally Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the main accused in the excise scam, giving himself ‘clean chit’, all reflect at the AAP’s desperate move to remain in news for ‘right reasons’ and drown the charges of corruption against it.

Kejriwal’s attempt to create a narrative around Delhi model of education too has backfired, as the Opposition has released startling data that enrolment in government schools were consistently falling ever since AAP came to power. The data showed that the number of children in Delhi’s government schools was 16.1 lakh in 2013-14, but decreased to 15.1 lakh in 2019-20. The figures showed that before 2013-14, every year the number of children in government schools was increasing by about 60,000, but after Kejriwal government came to office, the number started to decline.

Going by the rate of increase in numbers at the 2013-14 figures, the Delhi government schools today should have been housing about 20 lakh students but it’s now down to 15 lakh. While AAP or Delhi government has not replied to the charge, the Lieutenant Governor has decided to order a probe in the decline especially when the government was spending crores in advertisements claiming that children were leaving private schools to join government schools. 

A statement issued by the Raj Niwas has mentioned that the Delhi government’s Economic Survey (2021-22) showed a decline in  Student enrolment — between 55-61% of students attended State government-run schools from 2017 to 2022 — despite the budget for education sector being increased from ₹6,145.03 crore in 2014-15 to ₹11,081.09 crore in 2019-20. The L-G has directed to Chief Secretary to probe the anomaly.

This follows the charges of corruption in the construction work done in the government schools. The BJP has alleged that the government increased the construction cost by ₹326 crore — a 53% increase in comparison to the original tender amount — without floating a new tender. The opposition have claimed that as per the increased cost, as many as 6,133 classrooms were supposed to be constructed whereas only 4,027 classrooms were built. 

These charges are based on a report by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which was sent to the Delhi government for action in 2020. No action has been taken so far. The L-G has now sought an explanation from the Chief Secretary over the delay of 2.5 years by the Vigilance Department in acting on the CVC inquiry report. The AAP has remained quiet on these charges too.

Kejriwal and his cohorts somewhere realise that their façade about the Delhi model was falling apart. Their gamble to counter charges of corruption in the allocation of liquor licenses by flaunting Delhi model of education was not working. Kejriwal’s attempt to drag BJP-ruled Assam into the controversy on school closures met a strong counter from North-East state’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sharma.

The duo of Chief Minister Kejriwal-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia must realise that they are now being investigated for corruption by agencies which has constitutionally mandated to so. One of the senior ministers from their team, Satyender Jain has been languishing behind bars for some time now in a money laundering case, again investigated by these agencies.

Their gimmicks on the floor of the Delhi assembly and battle in the cyber-space through war of words on micro-blogging site Twitter was not really going to alter the course of investigation. The agencies have filed case after completing the preliminary investigations and finding sufficient evidences to register a case.

Given the legal position, the only relief for them would come from the courts, whom they under some strategy are not approaching. Even Satyender Jain has not appealed in the High Court against the denial of the bail by the trial court. The law will take its own course, probably AAP leadership realises, but wants to buy time creating sufficient political noise.     

(The writer is an author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice)


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