Delhi Water Crisis: AAP Appeals to INDIA Bloc to Support Atishi's Indefinite Fast, Congress Not Keen

4 weeks ago

As Delhi continues to battle water crisis, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has appealed to the opposition INDIA bloc to support minister Atishi as she is all set to embark on an indefinite fast beginning today for the national capital to get its “rightful share of water”. AAP MP Sanjay Singh said, “I request all parties of the INDIA gathbandhan to support Atishi and AAP in this battle.”

Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Singh said, “In Delhi, the water crisis is sponsored by the BJP. In spite of our repeated requests, the BJP government in Haryana did not release Delhi’s rightful share of water. By stalling the share of the water of Delhi’s 3 crore people, the BJP government has sinned.”

Speaking to News 18, Singh said that the AAP will reach out to all the parties of the INDIA gathbandhan for support. AAP minister Saurabh Bhardwaj told News 18, “We expect alliance partners to support us.”

The opposition BJP has rubbished the AAP’s claims and, instead led a sustained campaign in the national capital accusing the ruling party of failure to provide water and carrying out ‘dhikkar padayatras‘ to ‘matka phod’ protests to press conferences every single day. BJP State President Virendra Sachdeva, MoS Harsh Malhotra, MPs Manoj Tiwari, Ramvir Bidhuri, Bansuri Swaraj, Yogendra Chandolia trained their guns on Atishi and the Delhi government. Virendra Sachdeva said, “Atishi is lying. The Haryana government is supplying water more than the set limit. Delhi government is lying and leaving Delhiites shamefaced.” Sachdeva went on to explain the Rs 73,000 crore loss that the Delhi Jal Board has accrued.

Atishi, the only woman in the AAP Delhi cabinet who holds the maximum number of portfolios, on June 19, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing for the latter’s intervention in solving the acute water crisis in Delhi failing which, she will go on an indefinite fast from the June 21. The minister said, “Delhi’s total water supply is 1050 MGD, with 613 MGD sourced from Haryana. Over the past two weeks, this supply has reduced significantly, with only 513 MGD provided on June 18. This reduction of 100 MGD means that 28 lakh people are not getting adequate water supply.”

On the backfoot on an issue that is at the core of the AAP’s strong showing in Delhi Assembly elections, and having exhausted every other option, the AAP decided to fall back on its customary tool of indefinite fast. Explaining her stance, Atishi has said, “I cannot bear the pain of Delhiites any more.”

Congress Protests Against AAP

Interestingly, though the AAP and the Congress are part of the INDIA gathbandhan, the state unit of the Congress, like the BJP, has also taken to the streets and protested against the AAP government as the acute water crisis in the capital deepened. Led by newly appointed chief Devendra Yadav, the party organised a ‘matka phod‘ protest against the AAP charging it with ‘incompetence’ in dealing with the acute water crisis. The Delhi Congress chief has also written a letter to Delhi LG Vinai Saxena claiming that due to collision between the ruling party (AAP) and the tanker mafia, there is theft of water in Delhi. Yadav has also demanded action against those responsible for the same.

When asked about the AAP MP Sanjay Singh’s appeal, Devendra Yadav was clear that though the party would support any non political effort to ensure water for the residents of Delhi, it does not support the fast protest by Atishi. Yadav told News 18, “The point is as far as providing water to the people, we stand united. Only condition is that there should be no politics in providing water to the people of Delhi. We strongly oppose the political draamebazi that we have been seeing. Serious effort should have been made well in advance especially as far as the 58% per cent leakage issue is concerned. An action plan should have been made. They should have called for an all party meeting.”

“We are not supporting the political draamebazi like anshan. As far as providing water is concerned, we can support anybody in a non-political way,”Yadav added.

Additionally, AAP minister Gopal Rai’s statement post the Lok Sabha Poll 2024 results that the INDIA gathbandhan, of which the AAP was a part, was only for the General elections, may not work in AAP’s favour as it seeks support on the fresh crisis it is confronted with especially from the Congress.

Post a meeting with AAP legislators, the minister had said, “It was clear from the beginning that this alliance was for the Lok Sabha elections. We have fought these elections with full honesty. As far as the Vidhan Sabha elections in Delhi is concerned, there is no gathbandhan across the country. AAP will fight these elections along with the people of Delhi.”

The AAP and the Congress failed to win a single seat in Delhi in spite of the alliance and the AAP was quick to make it clear that the alliance was for the Lok Sabha elections. The big question is whether the Congress will support AAP on this issue outside and inside Parliament when the 18th Lok Sabha will commence from June 24.

However, some alliance partners may support, if not AAP, then the cause of Delhiites getting adequate water.

CPI General Secretary D Raja told News 18, “So far, formally nobody has approached us. We are aware of the water crisis. Delhi being the national capital, the union government should take some steps to coordinate between Delhi and Haryana and adjacent states to resolve the present crisis. Already, there is a hot summer, a heatwave, and people are dying. If the water scarcity continues, it will lead to miseries for the common people. There should be some coordinated effort among the governments.”

Raja added that this was not the time to blame each other but to coordinate and find solutions to the problem. The veteran CPI leader said, “Definitely this will be an issue, when Parliament session is on.”

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