On Thursday, ‘garbage’ politics took centre stage in the national capital, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visiting the Ghazipur landfill site and criticising the BJP-run Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for failing to clear the trash mountain.
The BJP, for its part, lashed out at the Delhi government’s failure to clean up the Yamuna River, stating that it will highlight sewage issues. This comes as MCD elections in Delhi are expected to be announced in the coming days.
On Thursday, Kejriwal paid a surprise visit to the Ghazipur landfill in East Delhi, where he launched a scathing attack on the BJP by accusing the MCD of failing to clear the “garbage mountain.”
“Over the last 15 years, the BJP has littered the entire city of Delhi.” I came today to see their Ghazipur garbage mountain. My appeal to all Delhi residents is to vote for Delhi’s cleanliness in the upcoming municipal elections. “We must work together to make Delhi clean and beautiful,” the CM tweeted.
At the landfill, he was met with protests from BJP workers waving black flags and shouting slogans.
“Jadoogar hoon main jadoogar, dil jeetna jaanta hoon (I am a magician, I know how to win hearts),” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared to the crowd in Ghazipur.
“This time, the elections will be fought on the basis of Delhi’s cleanliness,” he declared, implying that sanitation and cleanliness will be a major issue in the civic body elections.
Referring to himself as “Shravan Kumar (a character in the Hindu epic Ramayana)” who takes senior citizens on “pilgrimage,” Kejriwal asked the audience if they were willing to bear political attacks and abuse directed at their “son.”
BJP MP Gautam Gambhir called Kejriwal a “liar” and claimed the Delhi CM’s entire focus is on elections and never on the plight of the people.
Gambhir stated that he had visited the Ghazipur landfill site eight times since becoming an MP. “Many agencies have acknowledged that the landfill’s height has been reduced by several feet.” We invited the Delhi CM to join us in removing this garbage mountain several times, but he never responded. With elections approaching, his primal instincts are once again at work.”
Other Delhi BJP leaders questioned Kejriwal’s claims that he had addressed pollution in the Yamuna, claiming that they were a ploy to reach out to Poorvanchali voters in Delhi. This occurs three days before Chhath Puja, when devotees wade into the river to pray.
Last year, the Delhi government prohibited the holding of Chhath Puja on the banks of the Yamuna, but the BJP quickly labelled it anti-Hindu.
There has been no announcement of such a ban for this year.
Manoj Tiwari, MP for North East Delhi, claimed Thursday that the Delhi government has been spraying “toxic” ammonium phosphate at the Yamuna’s Kalindi Kunj ghat to clear the river of froth.
He also claimed that when BJP workers approached a group of people spraying the chemical, they fled, leaving their equipment behind.
Tiwari also claimed that police had registered a FIR after seizing 50,000 litres of chemicals, and that he believed the group was sent at the request of the Delhi government.
He also stated that the BJP will highlight the PWD’s dirty sewage management. The Delhi government is in charge of PWD.
“He did not go to a polluted site; he went to a natural landfill site,” Tiwari explained.
BJP Delhi chief Adesh Gupta, who examined the Chhath ghats at ITO, claimed that despite a Rs 2,500 crore allocation from the Union government, the Delhi government abandoned efforts to clean up the Yamuna and the ghats remain filthy.
MCD vs. Delhi Government
The conflict between the Delhi government and the MCD has frequently mirrored the BJP-AAP standoff in Delhi.
While the AAP blames the BJP-run MCD for the city’s garbage heaps, the BJP claims that the AAP-led Delhi government has been “lying” and has not provided adequate funding to the municipalities.
The AAP had accused the MCD of corruption in August, claiming that Rs 6,760 crore had vanished from the parking and conversion fee escrow account.
The MCD elections are expected to be held this year for the first time since the merger of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, and East Delhi Municipal Corporation into a unified MCD. The total number of wards in the capital has been reduced from 272 to 250 following delimitation.