The Congress would soon be approaching the residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) across Delhi in an effort to win over the middle class voters, who were perceived to have voted for the Aam Aadmi Party in the recently-held Delhi Assembly polls.
Senior party leaders said they have been getting feedback from their workers about the growing disillusionment of the middle class “due to the AAP’s impractical poll promises”. The leaders said they have decided to tap into this changing mood by approaching the RWAs, which have increased to around 3,500 since their inception in the year 2000.
“We are of the view that the direction of the political discourse is set by the middle class and there have been clear signs of disillusionment after the 49-day rule of the AAP. We would be approaching the RWAs as a part of our political campaign. Several RWAs, registered under the Bhagidari scheme, have shown displeasure over the decision of the AAP government to do away with the scheme and introduce Mohalla Sabhas through Swaraj Act,” said a senior Congress leader.
The Bhagidari scheme was launched by the Sheila Dikshit government to encourage public participation in governance. The registered RWAs under the scheme were allowed to participate in development work, mostly related to civic amenities.
The Delhi Government later also created a separate fund with a corpus of Rs.500 lakh for each revenue district that would be sanctioned to the RWAs for development work and social welfare projects. However, people doubt if the RWAs could make any huge impact.
“The RWAs themselves have turned into political platforms. Several RWAs are already divided on party lines. Moreover, there are several lacunae in the registration process due to which they have mushroomed across the city. In some colonies there are multiple RWAs, with members as low as five in number,” said Sanjeev Kumar, president of the Delhi Residents’ Front.
Apart from the RWAs, the Congress is also roping in non-governmental organisations working in the slum clusters and unauthorised colonies to influence the voters in these traditional vote banks of the party.