Ahead of Delhi polls, AAP, BJP wage battle over water

Ahead of Delhi polls, AAP, BJP wage battle over water

Arvind Kejriwal. (PTI Photo)

Ahead of the Delhi assembly elections next year, BJP and AAP were locked in a war over the quality of tap water in the national capital.

This war has been waged on the streets of Delhi, in party offices and even found an echo in Parliament.

The trigger – a press conference by Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan last week declaring that piped water supplied across 13 state capitals, including Delhi and Bengaluru, was undrinkable.

The findings of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the piped water quality across 20 state capitals sunk without a trace elsewhere, but left Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal incensed. It had found that water samples collected by the BIS from 11 different places in the capital, including Paswan's official residence, had failed on several parameters for quality.

Kejriwal lashed out at Paswan accusing him of “lying” and committing a “fraud on the people” by publishing “fake reports”. The union minister hit back at Kejriwal challenging him to nominate neutral officials from the Delhi Jal Board to accompany experts from BIS to collect water samples from the national capital afresh.

Soon, Members of Parliament from the national capital plunged into the war, backing the findings of the BIS and took to the streets to protest against the “inefficient” AAP government led by Kejriwal.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, once the face of the BJP in the national capital, also claimed that more children were falling ill due to contaminated water in Delhi. “It shows that Kejriwal did not pay attention to Delhi's water woes and air pollution,” he said.

In Rajya Sabha, former Union Minister Vijay Goel waved newspaper reports on water quality, bottles of mineral water, air purifiers and face masks to ward of pollution, to hit out at AAP over air and water quality in the national capital.

AAP member Sanjay Singh and Goel also engaged in a verbal duel drawing an angry response from Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi flagged the issue in the Lok Sabha, while Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari shot off a letter Kejriwal claiming that the people in Delhi weer “deeply scared” and “terrified” to drink the poisonous water in the capital.

AAP, which sprung a surprise in 2015 by winning 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly, is banking on the delivery of its promise of supplying free water and electricity to win over voters in elections next year.