AAP in power: A tale of U-turns Sandhya Jain15 Jan 2014,Niticentral In the short time in which it has been the ruling establishment in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demonstrated two contradictory facets. First, it startled the nation by expressing a desire to metamorphose into a nationwide phenomenon in time for the Parliamentary elections slated for April-May 2014, and started spreading its wings accordingly. Second, after some hasty announcements on electricity and water on assuming charge â€“ the ground impact of which is yet to be seen â€“ the AAP has been frantically trying to escape from the absolutism of its previous positions, best exemplified by scrapping janta durbars altogether after the first fiasco forced Arvind Kejriwal to seek refuge on the Secretariat roof. Arvind Kejriwal rose in public esteem on account of his dramatic opposition to the spiralling electricity tariff in Delhi, including burning bills and restoring the power lines of families whose electricity connections had been cut off due to non-payment of bills. The escalating water bills and determination of then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to privatise water assured his ascension. Since then, he has been resorting to gimmickry to doge his election promises, particularly against the former Chief Minister. An AAP study, uploaded on its official website, stated that Delhiâ€™s electricity was privatised in 2002 on grounds that distribution (including theft) losses were as high as 55 per cent; that these would be reduced with privatisation and the benefit would pass on to consumers as reduced tariff. However, while losses fell to 15 per cent, electricity tariff has more than doubled in the past three years alone. AAP echoed the sentiments of Delhi citizens that the power tariff was weighted excessively in the favour of the distribution companies. In 2010, then Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) chairperson Brijender Singh was going to recommend a 23 per cent reduction in tariff as the companies were making profits of Rs 3577 crore. Singhâ€™s order was due on May 5, 2010; Sheila Dikshit ordered him not to issue the same on May 4, 2010. Though the High Court lambasted the then Chief Minister and asked DERC to pass a fresh order, Singh had retired by then and the new chairman increased tariffs by 22 per cent in 2011 and 32 per cent the next year. Arvind Kejriwal promised to give Delhi citizens across the board this thwarted reduction of 23 per cent, with subsequent reductions that would be their due under the privatisation project. Instead, he offered free electricity to households consuming up to 400 units per months, a gimmick that lets down the constituency that voted for him in the hope of getting a corruption-free regime disconnected from the old politician-corporate-bureaucrat nexus. This hope now stands belied. The AAP report, â€˜Electricity scam in Delhiâ€™, asserts that improprieties uncovered during the tenure of Brijender Singh were ignored under the new DERC chief Sudhakar. For instance, in 2008-2009, Singh detected fudging in the accounts of two private firms, wherein the electricity consumption of Delhi Jal Board and Delhi Airport were shown as NIL. The aim was to decrease revenue and increased losses; once detected by Singh, the firms stopped doing this. A larger discrepancy was uncovered in the billing and purchase of equipment, which was shown as costing Rs 1428 crore, but VAT department records showed to be merely Rs 850 crore. Under the new DERC chairperson, two private firms were showing Zero bills for a number of consumers. Tests showed that the meters were working and the consumers had actually paid their bills! A one per cent check of consumers showed 10 per cent had such Zero bills as per the accounts submitted to DERC. The AAP claimed that DERC should have ordered checking of all entries or presumed that at least 10 per cent of DISCOM records were wrong and registered FIRs against them; but nothing was done. After the new DERC chairperson took charge, the Discoms changed from showing consistent reduction of distribution losses from 55 per cent to 15 per cent, to showing increase in losses. In Alaknanda circle alone, losses fell from 16.9 per cent to 1.35 per cent during Singhâ€™s tenure, but immediately rose to 8.87 per cent thereafter, and this happened in 18 out of 21 circles of just one firm. AAP then said, â€œLosses cannot suddenly start increasing in all circlesâ€¦ companies are taking huge amounts of revenues out of the books and are showing artificial losses to DERCâ€. These artificial losses and the billing for the same will now continue to be passed on to the Delhi citizens who consume more than 400 units of power per month. Another point made by the AAP report was that Discoms had surplus power which they sold in the market and did not fully reflect in their accounts. That is how Brijender Singh had fixed the profits at Rs 3577.91 crore, which he wanted to share with the citizens. AAP will claim that the Lt Governor has now ordered an audit of the accounts of the private companies by the Comptroller & Auditor General. That is welcome, but has so far not even begun. Delhi citizens are entitled to ask Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal why, after AAPâ€™s in-depth study, did he did not implement the thwarted order of Brijender Singh and reduce tariffs by 23 per cent as an interim measure till the CAG report came in? Why has AAP not scrapped the tariff orders passed for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 by DERC, which AAP claimed was an illegitimate escalation? What about refunding the excess money charged to consumers for three years? These promises were made on the basis of a serious study by the AAP, whose founder member Prashant Bhushan even went to court against the Sheila Dikshit order restraining DERC from reducing tariffs. Arvind Kejriwal, who went colony by colony to educate Delhi voters about their exploitation at the hands of the private companies with the complicity of the Congress regime, must now explain how the free 400 units per household meets the promise that elevated him to the Chief Ministerâ€™s office. After all, this â€˜freeâ€™ electricity will now figure as genuine â€˜lossesâ€™ in the accounts of the private companies and will have to be paid outright by the already suffering middle classes. If this is how AAP rule translates nationwide, it is a wake-up call for the middle classes. AAP in power: A tale of U-turns | Niti Central Please use this thread as AAP's U-turns thread ! and contribute their other U-turns. Kejriwal is changing very fast and people must know that.