NewsBytes RTI: Did AAP conduct Mohalla Sabhas in Delhi?
AAP has to begin its campaigning for MCD elections by March-end. It came to power in NewsBytesapp.com/news/india/delhi'>Delhi in 2014, promising among other things to set up mohalla sabhas and cut electricity-tariffs, but has been criticized for not keeping its word. An RTI filed by NewsBytes found that AAP has not conducted any mohalla sabhas in atleast 2 districts in Delhi in the past 12-months.
What is a mohalla sabha?
By definition, Mohalla Sabhas are forums where people meet, discuss and resolve the problems concerning them. Although the initial idea was for MLAs to interact with people, it was later said to be reduced to two meetings to take suggestions and vote on them respectively.
The NewsBytes RTI
The RTI was filed by NewsBytes on 19th Jan to know the "total number of mohalla sabhas conducted in the past one year, across Delhi". The RTI was filed with the Office of Chief Minister. Replies were only received from north and south-east districts. The application kept transferring from one place to the other, before a partial reply was finally received.
Delhi government creates statutory body for mohalla sabha
The first step taken by Delhi government towards instituting mohalla sabhas was creation of a statutory body, chaired by Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia. Various principal secretaries are its members. Similar to funds allocated in the previous budget, the statutory body needs approval by the Lieutenant-Governor. Previous budget allocation of Rs. 350crore could not be touched, as the existence of a government body was denied.
Previous budget allocations untouched, present budget discards
In its third budget since coming to power, the AAP government neglected key poll promises including mohalla sabhas and free WiFi. In 2016, the government had allocated Rs. 350crore for the setting up of mohalla sabhas. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia noted, "the government couldn't spend the allotted funds, as the file was pending with the LG". He hoped for it to be cleared soon.
Delhi government announcement on mohalla sabhas
Delhi government announced the formation of 2972 mohalla sabhas in June 2016. The government also claimed in a press statement that detailed ground study had been conducted. Pilot studies conducted in 11 districts were allocated a sum of Rs. 253 crore for project execution.
Can AAP keep its promises?
The impending MCD polls can be a test of AAP rule's popularity. With a dismal track record in keeping promises, AAP's chances of winning are seriously in question. The RTI further draws into question the AAP's ability to give back to its voters. The future of mohalla sabhas still remain uncertain without the Lieutenant-Governor's assent.