What can Arvind Kejriwal learn from history of CNG in Delhi?

 

Delhi has never failed to amaze us. It has always been in the headlines. Being the centre of power politics, stories originating from here have always been worth reading and writing for. Recently concluded Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, at the office of LG is another good example to look after and comment upon.  But, why so?

With more than 5,000 CNG buses today being operated in Delhi, (though far behind the figure of 11,000 estimated by Delhi government itself) it is one of the largest public transport network in India. To introduce the air quality reforms in Delhi, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government was at the centre and Sheila Dikshit ruled Delhi, was really a daunting task. Different lobbies pitched for different objectives; diesel companies, automobile manufacturers, civil society organizations, bureaucrats everyone had their own vested interest. And above all this, there was one apex agenda directed by the Hon’ble SC, to improve the air quality of Delhi by introducing green fuel (CNG) in the public transport sector. This was not easy for the Congress government, ruling Delhi at that time. BJP strongly resisted all the initiatives taken by the government of Delhi, but submitted itself to the judicial power of SC later on.  In her autobiography, Sheila Dikshit remembers her struggle to implement CNG very clearly. But, she took it upon herself and coordinated with various departmental and private agencies involved in this process to implement the directives issued by the apex court. Credit should also be given to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At a later stage, he also took the stance to not to create any obstacle in the way of passing reforms for improving the air quality of the capital. It is even said that some of the BJP MLAs organized protests and bandhs against the CNG order.

But in case of AAP government, its way too different! Despite knowing the fact that its difficult to run daily affairs in Delhi, Sheila Dikshit proved her mettle. On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal has from time to time appealed to public for support. Yes, public can sympathize with Kejriwal’s political situation, but they expect a leader who can solve administrative riddles on his own, that too confidently. This has been totally missing in Kejriwal style of politics. Staging dharna, indulging into an administrative deadlock will only negatively impact the governance. This has to be understood by him and his associates.

Image result for sheila dikshit
Image Source: The Financial Express 

His education and health sector reforms are being widely applauded, but creating such fiasco is going to hurt his political prospects. Air pollution has now become an all time issue for Delhi and its citizens, in such a situation organizing dharna can be an absolutely bakwaas idea, which has backfired badly for his party.

CNG was one of the most important and much-needed reform in Delhi. This entire episode of CNG reforms, till date, forms an integral part of academic courses like public policy and law in the form of a case study.  The judicial intervention by SC in this case raised several criticisms, one was that how can the apex court indulge into a policymaking role? As a result of which, order for setting up EPCA was made by the SC.

Delhi needs a series of structural reforms in order to push for sustainable urbanization and environmental conservation. It can happen only if the efforts of all the stakeholders, in and outside the system, are coordinated and pursued together by Kejriwal’s sarkar. 

Author: Rishabh Shrivastava (Editor in Chief, The Analysis) 

You can reach the author at eic.analysis@gmail.com