BJP workers protested with black flags and slogans against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as the battle over upcoming elections reached one of the national capital’s largest garbage dumps, the saturated landfill at Ghazipur.
AAP workers countered with slogans against the BJP, which ran the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for over a decade before all three MCD divisions were dissolved to make one unified body. Elections to that unified MCD are likely by the end of this year or in early 2023.
Beating their chests, crying “Kejriwal, haye haye”, BJP workers stomped on AAP flags — some laid the flags out on the road and landed blows on them with sticks — as they blocked the road that leads to the site.
AAP workers, in retaliation just some feet away, beat their chests and sloganeered, “BJP, murdabad”.
The AAP has made sanitation the central issue, pointing towards the landfill sites — “mountains of garbage” — as standout signs of the BJP’s alleged failure. Mr Kejriwal’s visit is part of building on that.
The BJP argues that the Delhi government of the AAP is “lying” and has not given due funds to the municipalities. It has vowed to clear the landfill sites ahead of the MCD polls.
The rhetoric is getting sharper in light of elections in Gujarat, where AAP is hoping to challenge an entrenched BJP. With a demand to put images of Hindu deities on currency notes, Mr Kejriwal also made an apparent bid for the BJP’s core Hindutva vote yesterday.
Election dates aren’t formally out yet.
In Delhi, the BJP won the erstwhile south, north, and east Delhi municipal corporations in 2017 — elections were held together — winning 181 of 272 seats. In the now-unified MCD, the number of seats has been fixed at 250.
As for the garbage, a report of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee says the city generates around 11,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Of this, around 5,000 tonnes is processed and the rest (6,000 tonnes per day or 21.6 lakh tonnes a year) ends up at the three landfill sites.
Government data further shows that less than a fifth of the existing waste at the three landfill sites — Ghazipur, Okhla, and Bhalswa — has been processed since the project to flatten the mountains of garbage started in October 2019. The deadline set by the National Green Tribunal is barely two years away.