AAP takes to town hall meets to win Delhi voters, pits Kejriwal's conversational dialogue against Modi's monologue, Mann ki Baat - LiveNow24x7: Latest News, breaking news, 24/7 news,live news

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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

AAP takes to town hall meets to win Delhi voters, pits Kejriwal's conversational dialogue against Modi's monologue, Mann ki Baat

In the chilly Delhi winters, mercury is soaring among the rank and file of Aam Aadmi Party workers as over a thousand voters gathered in the Durgapuri chowk area of Rohtas Nagar Assembly to listen to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Delhi chief minister had called the event on Monday evening to discuss his government's 'report card' on the work undertaken in the past five years.

The town hall meeting called in the Durgapuri Chowk area, was the third such outreach attempt since the publication of 'AAP ka report card'.

In the performance report published before the Assembly election, the Delhi government has claimed to have achieved 10 major goals in a number of sectors.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal presents 'AAP Ka Report Card', a report card of the work done by the Delhi government in five years. PTI

Seen as a well devised poll strategy in which the voters are asked to rate the government according to its performance, the town hall meetings have recently become the highlight of AAP's electoral campaign.

Perhaps in a bid to convey the message that the conversations in these meetings are unscripted, voters are also allowed to pose questions to the chief minister, which he answers in extempore.

"Before a town hall event, it is adequately publicised to ensure good footfall of voters from all walks. Some voters hand over their questions to AAP workers in their locality beforehand while some ask it in the meeting itself," says Paritosh Kumar, a party worker in the locality.

Though the town hall meetings are a mere extension of the Janta Darbars held by the chief minister and his ministers on a regular basis to listen to public grievances, but these rallies seem more to be an attempt to carry forward Kejriwal’s image as a leader accessible and answerable to the masses.

"All of us know that being the capital city, Delhi is plagued by a number of problems. In such a place, a citizen is often required to be in touch with public representatives. But if you want to see how easily available Kejriwal is, then try to meet any of the BJP MPs in Delhi and than try to meet the chief minister. I am sure you will meet the second without any hassle. The town hall meetings are a testimonial to it," said Chandan Sharma, another AAP worker.

What makes the town hall meetings more intriguing, is that these conversations seem to be subtly attempted at carving Kejriwal’s image as a two way communicator, instead of a leader who speaks in monologues.

Soon after Kejriwal took the podium he claimed the town hall meetings as a historic move in which voters can directly question the chief minister.

"Has a Chief Minister of any states in India ever dared to come up in public with the report card of his government's works and seek votes in the last 70 years? In the last five years, we undertook many development works and implemented welfare schemes for the people of Delhi, instead of simply preaching what is to be done. The politics of preaching has come to an end. Aam Aadmi Party’s government in Delhi pioneered the politics of development."

Though he refrained from mentioning the Mann Ki Baat radio program, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks his mind on a number of issues, but the attempt to counter what is termed as the Opposition as a 'monologue' was clear.

Kejriwal and his government were showered with praise as soon as the floor of the town hall meeting was opened for the public.

Tanya, a student of SKV Lodhi Road school, appreciated Kejriwal for improved conditions of the Delhi government schools, which has brought government schools at par with the private schools.

She was a teammate amongst a group of girls from Delhi government schools who represented and won a Tug of War game in an international competition in Thailand.

While speaking to Firstpost she further said, "The Delhi government schools have been boosted up in such a way that any student can develop his or her personality as per interest. If Delhi government schools had not been developed in such a manner, then I would have never gotten the opportunity to compete in a foreign land."

Sunny Upadhyay, a resident of Burari constituency, thanked the chief minister and the Delhi government for the development works undertaken in the unauthorized colonies, such as laying of water and sewer connections and the construction of roads.

The voters in the unauthorized colonies who were mostly AAP supporters are going to be the deciding factors in the upcoming polls. The Centre too has initiated the process of fulfilling the demands of the residents of these colonies to regularize the settlements.

No wonder that Kejriwal was quick to claim credit for the developments in these colonies.

"It is easy to talk about these colonies before elections but difficult to work. To ensure that they receive all the amenities I myself supervised all the development activities in standing on the roadside defying scorching heat," he claimed.

He also assured the voters that all the freebies such as free electricity up to 200 units, free bus ride for women, free pilgrimage and free treatments in hospitals would continue if he comes to power yet again.

"The opposition party has made it clear that it would shut down the freebies if they come to power. I assure that these schemes would continue if we come to power. So your choices are now clear," he said.

Some of the voters also raised concerns about air pollution, women’s safety and crime.

On air pollution Kejriwal said, "Delhi has seen immense development in terms of industrial and technical growth, but despite that, pollution has decreased by 25 percent in the last five years. Earlier, power cut was a major issue and around 6 lakh generators were used during long power cuts. There are no power cuts in Delhi now, and the generators are not in use, which has resulted in the reduction of smoke and pollution."

He also credited the Centre for decreasing pollution by coming up with the East West bypass, saying that the central govt has constructed East-West Peripheral Highway on the outskirts of Delhi, which has reduced the number of trucks and goods carriers bypassing Delhi at nights. This has led to reduced pollution levels in the city.

On women’s safety he said, "Women's safety is a huge concern for us. Governments, the police, and society need to tackle this situation together. I have been informed that crimes in Delhi have significantly reduced due to the installation of CCTV cameras. We are also going to start installation of 2.10 lakh street lights."

Significantly, the town hall meeting at Durgapuri Chowk was held amidst raging controversy about the Citizesnship Amendment Bill and the proposed NRC. But nowhere in the meeting the chief minister touched upon the issue.

"The meeting is purely about the achievements of the AAP government in Delhi and not about any other issue. Hence it was normal that these issues did not come up in the meeting," said Chandan Singh, another AAP worker in the locality.

What is equally true is that, had the meeting touched upon the debated issues, it would have shifted both voter's attention and the narrative from the AAP to the BJP, which is pushing CAA-NRC as a part of it's Hindutva agenda.

Few months back Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain, while answering a question about what would be the AAP's poll strategy in the upcoming polls said, "We have nothing else other than what we have done in the last five years. So our works are our only strategy." Perhaps the AAP has decided to stick to it religiously.

December 31, 2019 at 01:21PM

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