As the Assembly elections knock the doors of Delhi, every political outfit participating in the polls is getting their act together or to-get-‘her’ — vying for majority of seats in the forthcoming elections.
Be it the Congress, the BJP or the new contestant in the world of politics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lead by the Ramon Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal; everyone is searching a ground base to park their guns on, so as to fire a salvo of bullets at their opponents.
While Sheila Dixit has commenced her passage with her chosen issue of an overall infrastructural development of Delhi (the concern fades away into oblivion, as soon as she tastes power), accusing opponents (read BJP) for increase in spread of slums.
Vijay Goel lead BJP is still hunting in dark to make an issue out of something, other than the emblematic trouncing of the Congress government. And, Modi is the latest addition in their ‘scheme of things’ –even if the subject misfits their ‘rule-book’.
Nevertheless, the new participant (AAP) has taken to the perennial (and risk-free) issues of honesty, nationalism and lack of transparency in the current administrative system.
No matter how much noble their intentions are, the elections are only won on the developmental issues and these concerns don’t buy any good with the ‘real’ (not the Facebook/Twitter activists or the NRI’s) voters in India.
For Mr. Kejriwal, the actual issue lays embedded in newest decision by the Union Cabinet of doubling (from $4.2 MMBtu to $8.4MMBtu) the domestic natural gas prices from April, 2014. Thus, Kejriwal, who has already waged scores of wars with the state over appreciation in the electricity prices, should mull over it as one of the focal issues.
But, how will this impact the Delhites?
This verdict would lead to a noteworthy rise in the monthly bill for piped-gas and CNG. A major portion of Delhi’s economy runs on CNG. Be it buses or auto rickshaws, almost everyone uses CNG as fuel and any increase will directly lead to an intensification in travelling fares, thus hitting Delhi’s common man notably (also leading to rise in inflation) as the decision comes into force from 2014, which is not much far.
The total cost of electricity generation in the gas based plants can also rise to Rs 6.20/unit from the current cost of Rs 4.20/unit – an amplification in a unit of power by about 6% of the average retail rate annually — if the entire additional cost is passed by the gas based electricity producers to the customers, which is the only viable alternative left with them, unless the government vows to subsidize them entirely, and it’s only a distant reality.
This looks most imminent, considering the fiscal health of private power discoms in Delhi which are already reeling under a financial crunch due to an ever increasing power purchase cost. Even though, some may contest that almost 70% of the power needs of Delhi are met through coal based power plants — will this decision really hurt?
The answer is yes, at least in the long term. Due to lack of coal availability, most of the power distributors are turning towards gas based power plants, which are also a clean source of fuel.
So, this verdict could be a setback to them. Delhi has 4 gas based power stations and RIL (the gas provider) is not supplying them enough gas for past some time. Therefore, RIL’s gain (the major beneficiary of the decision) can be Delhi’s loss.
Then why is Kejriwal not politicizing and sensationalizing the whole matter?
Already BJP, the principal opposition party is maintaining pin-drop-silence over the controversial issue for some doubtful reasons. With the elections approaching, funds are something everyone needs. And, displeasing RIL, the CFO (Chief Funding Officer) of almost all the major political units, can be suicidal.
We expect Kejriwal to come out and make some right noises, as he has already done in the past by highlighting the collusion of Reliance with the UPA and the BJP, in the financial deals.
Then, what keeps you unvoiced Mr. Kejriwal or are you so busy screening the right candidates for the impending Delhi polls that you are losing sight of the real issues?