New Delhi: The Delhi High Court (HC) will on Monday continue hearing the plea of 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs, seeking to quash their disqualification from the Delhi Assembly for holding offices of profit.

Earlier on January 30, the Delhi HC asked the Election Commission (EC) to file a written reply to the plea of the disqualified MLAs.

On January 21, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the disqualification of the MLAs, who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, after the Election Commission of India on January 19 had recommended for the same.

Earlier on January 22, the MLAs withdrew their plea from the High Court that they had filed on January 19 after the EC’s recommendation.

The Delhi High Court, on that date, refused to pass any interim order of protection to those MLAs.

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday mounted an attack on the Centre over an alleged multi-million dollar scam involving diamantaire Nirav Modi, alleging that he could flee the country because he had access to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The billionaire jewellery designer and businessman, against whom a complaint was lodged with the CBI by the Punjab National Bank on 29 January for his alleged involvement in the scam, had flown out of India on 1 January.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked if he had left the country with the backing of the government.

“Is it possible to believe that he or (businessman) Vijay Mallya left the country without the active connivance of BJP government?” Kejriwal tweeted.

In another tweet, senior AAP leader Ashutosh said 42 FIRs against Modi had been sent to the PMO since 26 July, 2016. Yet, he was seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Davos at the World Economic Forum last month.

“42 FIRs sent to PMO on 26 July, 2016, PMO acknowledged too. But no action,” he tweeted, adding that Modi was seen with the prime minister in Davos.

“And now he has fled. Why PMO did not take action,” he asked. “Why he was allowed to flee India (sic)?”.

Ashutosh was referring to a photograph in which the prime minister is seen with some of the country’s business honchos at the WEF. The photograph was also tweeted by Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha.

“Nirav can’t be seen photographed with the prime minister unless everyone present in the pic is scanned and approved by PMO (sic),” Ashutosh tweeted.

“If PMO knew about the FIRs against Nirav then why he was allowed to be in picture! Its clear man has access to the top! (sic),” Ashutosh said in another tweet.

The past three years have been a roller-coaster ride for the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in Delhi. The popular perception around AAP has shifted from ‘Kejriwal is always shouting and complaining’, to ‘Kejriwal has gone silent’, but beyond rhetoric there has also been substantive change on ground in Delhi, despite the Modi Government being a constant hurdle.

The performance has to be looked at in relative terms rather than an absolute. In that respect, Delhi has done great in terms of basics like health, education, electricity and water. It has done fairly in terms of transport, vigilance, safety and service delivery. The one front, on which it seems to be failing, is the ‘progressive’ front by falling into the populist trap.

Let’s get an overview of it.

On the policy front, Delhi has seen changes which can be viewed as benchmark changes. They have managed to bring about improvement in Education, Health, Water, Electricity as well as reduction in corruption. The kind of policy decisions and implementations that AAP has been able to implement in 3 years of governance in Delhi are rare in the Indian context.

When it comes to Education,the AAP government in Delhi is spending 24% of the total Budget outlay, which is the highest in the country. The only other state which spends a similar amount is Kerala (19-20%).

In the past one year, ten early childhood education centres have been started across the city and 156 government schools have introduced nursery and KG classes. This is in addition to the grand transformation of not just the infrastructure of Government schools, but the quality of education under Manish Sisodia. He is a man with a mission to transform education in Delhi and make it a model for the country. He is one of the few people who has a vision and the courage to experiment, try out new things, new studies, and find the best, creative solution for education in Delhi. India must have seen very rare passionate people like him. Private school fee regulation too was a big step taken by the AAP government: another 1st for India.

In terms of Health, a 3 tier health system has been setup in Delhi comprising of Mohalla clinic – Poly Clinic – Super-speciality hospitals. Twenty six lakh people of Delhi are getting the benefits of 110 mohalla clinics, which provide services free of cost. The principle followed by AAP in this context is very basic and another first in the country. They believe that when people already pay taxes, they should not have to pay additionally for basic healthcare consultations. This, accompanied by learned doctors and good facilities, has made mohalla clinic a world renowned model for basic healthcare.

With the plan to set up 1,000 mohalla clinics for consultation , medicines and tests free of cost underway, Delhi will soon witness its own small revolution in terms of healthcare.

As promised by AAP before elections, they have made Water almost free and reduced Electricity rates by 50%. Surprisingly, after that, Delhi Jal Board revenue is up by Rs 178 lakh even with 12 lakh households availing the free water scheme. This is exactly what Kejriwal keeps saying, when the government is honest, money is saved.

When it comes to the lower strata of society, AAP has its mind where its heart is. Workers have received 150% increase in daily wages while farmers received Rs. 50,000/hector as compensation, one of the best in the country.

Some major reforms which would have made the lives of citizens of the capital easy, and safer in terms of ‘Home delivery of Public service’, ‘Law and order’, ‘Anti-corruption’, are stuck because of the LG, who clearly serves the interest of the Central government. The central government has acted as a permanent hurdle in the way of the Delhi Government. Clearly, politically, it is would be harmful for the central government if AAP performs too well. That would invoke clear comparison with the on ground impact of the Modi government in comparison to AAP’s Delhi Government, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how terribly the central government would fail.

Though overall the Delhi Government seems to be doing well, the picture is not as rosy as that.We must remember, the Metro fare hike which the Delhi government is opposing now, is something they had not done the 1st time when fares were hiked. Given that the Delhi government has 50% stakes in the DMRC, it is hard to believe that they missed the fare hike.

On top of that, the Delhi Government has not been able to implement the promise of 10,000 buses, which would have been a blessing for the working class especially given the inconvenience caused by metro fare hike. With the metro fares being hiked and the scarce availability of buses, poor and lower middle class people are really in a fix.

I won’t go into the popular ‘promise failures’ of putting Sheila Dixit in jail and stopping rapes and assault on women in Delhi, because anti-corruption and police are not under the Delhi Government. The division between MCD and Delhi Government is too tangled up and because the mainstream media is in BJPs pockets, the anti-AAP perception is widely spread, which is totally baseless. This is for people to understand and also for AAP to do more to clear these distinctions.

Delhi government has saved over 350 crores in the construction of 3 flyovers. They have repeatedly shown a clear path for being non-corrupt and how it automatically leads to increased efficiency.These kinds of things are unheard in India, showing how an honest government can function.

Overall, the performance of the AAP government is good, and given the plans in place to setup 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras and free WiFi in Delhi, before the term ends, looks like it would be the 1st party to complete all its election promises.

Although everything is going as planned for AAP, it is important to note their opportunistic approach to politics. There is a clear lack of ideology. Even in terms opposing the PIL for the decriminalisation of the ‘Beef ban’ in Delhi by the Delhi Government. It is nothing but towing the soft hindutva line, which is totally not what the AAP stands for. AAP did well when it was on the front foot, when it opposed the age old corrupt practices and showed new hope to people. They made sure they won’t tow any line, just because it was a populist one. But, with this recent decision to oppose the ‘petition decriminalising beef ban’, AAP seems to have lost its way. It might be a populist position and might appease some voters, but in the long run it will prove to be harmful. They have to realise and remember, the principles on which their party was formed and elected to power.

The question now is, will Kejriwal follow the ‘party born out of a revolution’ model, and do his aggressive, out of the box campaigning, planning and execution in terms of policies, which are progressive in principle? Or will he fall into the trap of ‘vote bank politics’ and takes decisions such as opposing decriminalisation of beef ban and take a ‘soft hindutva’ stance, to appeal to the ‘larger nationalistic sentiment thereby losing sight of the principles that AAP stood for?

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party government has spent Rs. 70.5 crore annually on an average in the past three years on advertisements — four times more than the previous government’s expenditure on print, electronic and outdoor advertising, according to an Right To Information, or RTI reply.

In the first year after assuming office in February 2015, the current government spent Rs. 59.9 crore on advertisements, Rs. 66.3 crore the next year and Rs. 85.3 crore up to December 31, 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) said in reply to an RTI application by IANS.

The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs. 70.5 crore. The Congress’ average was Rs. 17.4 crore in the last five years of its rule from 2008 to 2013.

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the chief minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers.

For instance, when the AAP government completed its first and second anniversary in 2016 and 2017, leading newspapers in the capital carried full-page advertisements, highlighting the achievements of the government.

In the run-up to celebrating its three years in office, the government in the first two weeks of February carried advertisements flashing pictures of the chief minister and other ministers. The highlights included inauguration of community toilets, excellence awards distribution for students, a government meeting on “smart gaon”, and invitation of applications for scholarship schemes.

The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 per cent compared to the Congress government.

But the average advertisement rate charged by a leading English newspaper, comparing the Congress government and AAP government periods, has increased by about 17 per cent, according to the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity.

For the same period, the average rate charged by another leading English newspaper has increased by about 35 per cent.

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 per cent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of one year in power in 2016.

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements.

Last year, the government came under attack from the opposition after Delhi’s Lt. Governor Anil Baijal asked the party to cough up Rs. 97 crore spent on advertisements, allegedly to promote the party instead of the government. The order was based on a report by the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising.

The regulatory authority asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure in issuing “those advertisements/advertorials in which the name of the Aam Aadmi Party is mentioned” and other factors.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there.

Delhi government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma said he has “no comments” to offer on the increase in expenditure.

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken said, “They (AAP) are using the power of advertisements to put pressure on TV (channels) and newspapers. They are doing it ruthlessly”.

BJP legislator and Delhi Assembly’s Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta termed the government’s spending on advertisements as “irrational”. “Misuse of public money in this way is completely unjustified and unethical,” Mr Gupta told news agency IANS.

NEW DELHI: As his government completed three years in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said they had been able to do “only half the work” that could have been done in the past three years. Without naming the Centre or the BJP, he said his government has been facing “hurdles”. Over the last three years, Mr Kejriwal’s government has accused the BJP-led Central government of attempting to govern Delhi by proxy through its representative, the Lieutenant Governor. Today, the Chief Minister, however, asked Delhi to “have faith in us”.

The five Issues on which the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor had clashed:

Control Over Bureaucrats

The jurisdiction over bureaucrats became one of the key flashpoints between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government. In 2015, soon after AAP swept to victory in the assembly elections in Delhi, it came to loggerheads with then Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, after he appointed senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Doley Gamlin as acting chief secretary against the wishes of chief minister Kejriwal. As the matter snowballed with subsequent transfers and appointments, AAP went to high court, which upheld the Lieutenant-Governor’s position as the administrator in Delhi. AAP has challenged the order in the Supreme Court.

Passing of Bills

The Central government’s return of more than a dozen bills passed by the Delhi assembly triggered another row in 2016 as the AAP government accused the NDA of interference. In a series of tweets, Arvind Kejriwal, furious, demanded that the Delhi assembly be given the powers to make its own laws. He also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tweeting, “Modi’s slogan — Na kaam karoonga, na karne doonga (Neither will I work, nor will I let others work).

Mohalla clinics

Arvind Kejriwal and the Lieutenant Governor had also clashed over the construction of Mohalla clinics, a healthcare project close to the Chief Minister’s heart. As the confrontation escalated, AAP lawmakers camped outside the Lt Governor’s official residence, demanding that he signs off the files. The proposal was cleared finally after months of tussle.

‘Door to Door Welfare Measures

In December, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal put brakes on the Delhi government’s proposal to “home deliver” basic public services — from birth certificates to social welfare schemes, calling for a rethink. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia called it a “huge setback” to the government’s efforts to provide good and corruption-free governance. The AAP government questioned whether the Lieutenant Governor should “have the power” to express difference of opinion with the elected government on such “critical matters of public interest and be able to scuttle such measures”.

Government advertisements

In March 2017, soon after the second anniversary of the Delhi government, the Aam Aadmi Party was asked to pay a hefty Rs. 97 crore fine for spending public money on advertisements that projected Arvind Kejriwal and his party and instead of the achievements of the state government. The order from Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal came after the country’s top auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General, said a chunk of the government’s 526-crore publicity blitz had been misused.

NEW DELHI: The BJP on Wednesday staged a protest outside Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence, accusing his AAP government of pushing the city 30 years behind in three years of its rule.

On the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, thousands of BJP workers led by Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari assembled near Chandgi Ram Akhada in north Delhi and walked towards Mr Kejriwal’s residence, shouting slogans like “Kejriwal, Kaha gaya tera wada (Kejriwal, what about your promises?)”, “Jhootha Kejriwal (Kejriwal is a liar)” and “Kejriwal Sharm karo (Kejriwal, be ashamed)”.

The Delhi Police use mild force to stop the demonstrating Bharatiya Janata Party workers and a few activists including Mr Tiwari were injured when water cannons were used.

Addressing the party workers, Mr Tiwari, who is the MP from northeast Delhi, said: “In three years of his governance, Kejriwal has pushed Delhi 30 years back in terms of development.”

He also said Mr Kejriwal had got a setback from his Minister Satyendar Jain’s corruption, and this was the reason why he is celebrating the third anniversary with few people in a hall instead with the city’s people.

Referring to the disqualification of AAP MLAs in office of profit case, Mr Tiwari said, “They use to preach everyone about honesty. And now their own 20 MLAs have been disqualified by the President because they broke all the laws.”

He charged Mr Kejriwal with lying over his promises like opening new hospitals and colleges in the city, alleging not a single new hospital or colleges have been opened in last three years.

“Even the condition of the government hospitals are very bad these days,” he said, adding that two babies died in a city hospital this morning.

Mr Tiwari accused the chief minister of only suggesting closing down things or doing drama whenever Delhi sees any problem.

When pollution level rises, he suggests to shut Delhi and to implement odd-even vehicle rationaling scheme, when ammonia level in water rises, he talks of stopping water supply. And thus the people of the city want to shut this corrupt government,” he said.

“The truth is that he has failed on every promises he made to the people of the city whether it is about installing 15 lakh CCTV cameras, giving free wifi services, marshals in the DTC buses, free water supply and many others,” he added.