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February 23, 2020

The Kejriwal model

Opinion

February 23, 2020

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP): In 2011, a wave of demonstrations took place across India under the ‘India-Against-Corruption (IAC)’ movement. In 2012, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was formally launched by Arvind Kejriwal – and others – with anti-corruption as the party’s primary agenda.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI): Imran Khan – and others – founded the PTI on April 25, 1996 with anti-corruption as the party’s primary agenda.

The PTI and AAP both had similar agendas and similar beginnings. Over the years, the PTI and the AAP both moved from protesting political entities to winning elections and becoming ruling parties Imran Khan became the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan and Arvind Kejriwal the seventh chief minister of Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal, after becoming the chief minister of Delhi, did six things. One, free electricity for all consumers consuming 200 units or less. Two, 25 percent of the budget for education. Three, free medicines at government hospitals. Four, development and infrastructure charges waived for new water and sewer connections. Five, free bus rides for students. Six, a ‘guarantee card’ listing 10 promises that the AAP would deliver (including the plantation of 20 million saplings).

Here’s what PM Imran Khan has so far done. One, electricity bills have gone from a low of Rs11 per unit to a high of Rs27 per unit. Two, gas bills have gone from a low of Rs2.5 a unit to a high of Rs6 a unit. Three, the education budget has actually been scaled down. Four, there’s no real change in the treatment of patients at government hospitals.

Arvind Kejriwal ran a positive election campaign in which he promised the things that he would deliver, and abstained from targeting his political opponents. He sent out messages of unity among all voters and his model sent out shockwaves for the opposition. For the record, Imran Khan ran a negative election campaign, polarized the voters and his policies have actually emboldened the opposition.

Arvind Kejriwal made the provision of basic necessities to all Delhiites (aka Dilliwalas) as his first priority. He set up a ‘clean government’ and an ‘able team’. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also set up a ‘clean government’ but a very weak team that has so far not been able to increase the level of public services.

Arvind Kejriwal got together with Delhi’s businessmen to install a stakeholder-friendly tax regime and ended the practice of tax raids. Here in Pakistan, businessmen are running around scared of tax authorities and raids have once again begun.

PM Imran Khan is now looking for ‘out of the box solutions’. Our prime minister must now use a combination of neuroscience behind politics and cognitive psychology. Our prime minister must focus on measures that will have a high ‘impact with minimal government efforts’. Throw in some freebies for Pakistanis who really deserve them the most – in electricity, for instance.

Our prime minister must restrict his focus to just four things: flour, schools, hospitals and electricity (forget about corruption, the current account deficit, exchange rate stability). Flour matters a great deal; every Pakistani consumes 115 kg of flour a year. Subsidize flour – heavily. Health and education matter – schools and hospitals are where the state and the common Pakistani intersect each other.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh