Kejriwal launches hunger strike, eyes Delhi polls

Aam Aadmi Party campaigns against hiked water/power charges, to burn bill on holi


Jasleen Kaur | March 23, 2013

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal began an indefinite hunger strike on Saturday against increased power and water bills in the national capital.

The hunger strike is part of his campaign, so far restricted to rallies and meetings in parts of Delhi against high charges of utilities like water and electricity – an issue he expects that can help his party fight the Delhi assembly elections later this year.

But this time the venue of his campaign is neither Ramlila Maidan nor Jantar Mantar, but the house of a common man and supporter in east Delhi's Sunder Nagri, who had received the water bill of more than Rs 5,000 and had to borrow money to pay the amount.

"We used to get water bills of up to Rs 400. But in the last few months the amount suddenly doubled. I have received the bill of Rs 5,200 for five months. We cannot afford to pay so much," Ranjit Singh, the house owner, told Governance Now.

Shazia, a member of the AAP, said, "It is an awareness campaign. We want to tell people that they should not pay the hiked tariff. We are collecting signatures of people supporting this cause."

AAP members have been protesting in 264 wards across Delhi and asking people not to pay the hiked water and electricity bills.

Shazia said most leaders of the newly formed party including senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and political scientist Yogendra Yadav had stopped paying the water and electricity bills.

The party, which was granted the election commission recognition on Friday, plans to burn the copies of electricity bills on the day of holi.

AAP has been holding public meetings in all assembly constituencies, covering more than 45 constituencies so far.

"There are 35 lakh electricity connections in Delhi. We are expecting to collect signatures of at least ten percent of the users. We want people to stop being afraid of not paying the bill," said Shazia.

Kejriwal has accused chief minister Sheila Dikshit of working hand in glove with the power distributing companies. He has also appealed to people not to pay the bills and said if more and more won't pay and join the "civil disobedience" movement, government and the power distribution companies won't take against them.



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