The MCD elections are around the corner in Delhi, and Kejriwal’s party has ratcheted up its populist message today by promising to do away entirely with residential house taxes as well as waive off arrears, if voted to power. After the bad show in Punjab, Goa and Uttar Pradesh, it looks like the party’s president and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is looking to recover lost ground in the only state that is ruled by the party.
The three municipal corporations going to vote on April 23 – the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation – are reportedly in severe financial distress and quite a sizeable portion of their revenues is derived from house taxes. AAP has promised to abolish only taxes on residential property, which accounts for about 600 crore rupees in revenue.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) April 7, 2017
Kejriwal and his party leaders have opined that this is not a freebie given out before elections, but a well thought move : “As soon as the AAP comes to power in the MCDs, we will abolish the collection of house residential tax and waive all pending dues with immediate effect. We are making this promise with full responsibility, and after thorough study and planning. North Delhi Municipal Council had a budget of Rs 3,300 crore, of which Rs 250-300 crore is collected from house tax. Of the total Rs 3,300 crore, Rs 1,000 crore is wasted in corruption, which we will stop if voted to power,” Kejriwal said. It is essential to remember that the party rode to power in Delhi on similar promises of cheaper electricity and free water, which some would say it has successfully kept only in a limited sense.
From yesterday's jansabhas in RK Puram wards. Residents are enthusiastic about AAP's plans to revamp MCD and abolish House Tax. pic.twitter.com/HVosWnq8cJ
— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) April 10, 2017
With the electoral success of the BJP in UP and Goa, the party seems to have momentum and it will be looking to capture the Delhi municipal seats, sealing its hold on power in the country’s capital. This pressure seems to showing in the AAP move. Kejriwal also promised to make the corporations profitable and pledged timely pay for its workers, all of which seem quite implausible considering the loss of a major source of revenue.
— Ankit Lal (@AnkitLal) April 7, 2017
It remains to be seen what effect this move will have on the results of the elections. It is clear that both AAP and BJP are taking the fight very seriously, and it will quite an explosive election season in Delhi.