Free power promise will work, but AAP needs more to win: experts

‘It has a good chance in Punjab but not in other States in Assembly polls’

Published - July 16, 2021 12:32 am IST - New Delhi

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Punjab AAP president Bhagwant Mann (right) and former State IGP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh in Amritsar in June 21.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Punjab AAP president Bhagwant Mann (right) and former State IGP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh in Amritsar in June 21.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which came to power in Delhi for the first time in 2013, by fighting against the “high” electricity and water bills during the then Congress regime, is trying to play the same game in its attempt to win a State outside Delhi.

In the past fortnight, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal travelled to three poll-bound States and made the same announcement: If the AAP is elected to power, then each house will get up to 300 units of free electricity, old power bills will be waived off, there will be no power cuts, and free electricity will be provided to farmers.

In the run-up to the 2013 Delhi election, the AAP, which was then a greenhorn, launched ‘Bijli Paani Satyagraha’ and burned power bills across the city. It was one of the major planks on which they fought the election and won it.

Currently, the electricity bill will be zero for a household in Delhi if the monthly consumption is less than 200 units and also each house gets 20,000 litres of free water.

Experts said that the current announcements will strike a chord with the voters, as the AAP government has been giving 200 units of free electricity per month to every household in Delhi.

Faith factor

Praveen Rai, political analyst, who works with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) , said that people will believe more in the AAP, even if other political parties also make similar promises.

“It will work for the AAP because even if other parties in these three States also promise the same, people will believe the AAP more as they have an example of Delhi to show, where people have been getting the benefits of it for years,” Mr. Rai said.

Political analyst Neerja Chowdhury agreed and said that ‘ bijli-paani ’ was one of the first issues the AAP took up after the party was formed.

“[Mr.] Kejriwal was lampooned for it and many asked where the money will come from? But the AAP won the election and implemented the promise on water in the first week itself and electricity later on, and sustained it. This has built his credibility. Like we have a ‘Metro man’, Kejriwal is the ‘ Bijli-Paani ’ man,” she said.

Both of them said that the AAP has a good chance in Punjab in the 2022 Assembly elections.

“During the 2020 Assembly elections in Delhi, even after the BJP playing the communal card, the AAP won the election. The result was a vote for the Delhi model of governance. The AAP has a good change in Punjab this time. In Goa, they had a decent local leadership, but then there were problems and they lost. In Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the AAP does not have a strong local presence and network of party offices. Even if they get 10% vote share this time, the party should keep working on the grassroot level and grow as a main political force,” Mr. Rai said.

Ms. Chowdhury also said that the AAP will only be a third force in Uttarakhand and Goa.

A good connection

Mr. Rai said that in India, about 45% of the people are either poor or in the middle class and free power makes a good connection with them. “Even if it’s ₹800 or ₹1,000 a month, it is a big amount for them. Though welfare schemes have been there for a long time, the free power and water schemes were AAP’s brainchild,” he said.

“The power bills are high in many States and during the pandemic, free electricity will be seen as a big benefit by people belonging to lower middle class and middle class. This, in itself, is not enough to win elections, but it is a good entry point for [Mr.] Kejriwal,” Ms. Chowdhury said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.