Delhi Flood Drowns Talk Of Teamwork, Triggers AAP-BJP Slugfest

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A day after the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and Chief Minister made public declarations of working together as a team and not indulging in a blame game during the crisis, the AAP and the BJP have stepped up attacks on each other over the flood-like situation in Delhi.  

The AAP has alleged a conspiracy against the people of Delhi and blamed the BJP governments in Haryana and at the Centre. The charge led to a sharp rejoinder from the BJP, which said that the AAP thinks everyone is indulging in a conspiracy, but Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is “sitting in his sheesh mahal in air-conditioned comfort”, is doing the right thing. 

At a joint press conference yesterday, which was meant to signal unity, Mr Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had stressed on the need to work together as a team. “Right now, we need to work as a team. I can also say a lot of things but this is not what we should do at this time,” the LG had said. 

In a similar vein, Mr Kejriwal had said, “This is such a crisis when humans should help other humans. There’s no use abusing one another. BJP has been abusing me since yesterday. Let them do it, doesn’t matter to me.”

The message seemed not to have reached AAP functionaries, however, with Delhi minister Saurabh Bhardwaj launching an all-out attack on the BJP.

“The BJP-led governments in Centre and Haryana are conspiring against the people of Delhi. They are deliberately attempting to cause a flood in Delhi. The question that arises is that if it has not been raining in Delhi, how is it that the water level in the Yamuna is a metre higher than the previous record high in 1978?” Mr Bhardwaj said. 

“From July 9 to 13, water was deliberately released towards Delhi as part of a conspiracy. Last year, in August, water was not only released towards Delhi but the eastern and western canals as well. The flow was evenly distributed between multiple states, because of which there was no flood in Delhi,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying. 
Responding to the charge, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said Mr Kejriwal had been told about the difference between a barrage and a dam.

“The region has received more rain than was expected or forecast. Rainfall in the hilly areas led to water levels increasing in our rivers. The Yamuna had 1 lakh cusecs of water, which went up to 3.7 lakh cusecs the next day. We had told Mr Kejriwal that it is a barrage, not a dam. A dam can stop water, a barrage can store it,” Mr Khattar said.

He added that water can be regulated in the barrage to a certain extent but it has a capacity of 1 lakh cusecs. “If the water crosses that level, it will naturally have to be released,” Mr Khattar said. 

Lashing out at the AAP, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said Mr Kejriwal’s priority is not working, but making excuses.

“The minister, who is supposed to be working, is accusing everyone from the Army and  National Disaster Response Force to the LG and the Centre – all of whom have been helping the people 24X7 – of conspiring. But the person who is sitting in his sheesh mahal and enjoying the air conditioning is right. That chief minister is right,” he said.

Mr Bhatia added, “The chief minister is saying 3.5 lakh cusecs of water have been released. 8 lakh cusecs had been released in 2013 and 2019, but there was no flooding. There’s been a flood this time because the chief minister’s priority is not working, but making excuses. He blamed Punjab and Haryana for pollution and migrants for the lack of beds during Covid.”

The AAP and the BJP have been at loggerheads for years now, but the feud escalated in May, when the Centre passed an ordinance on the control of services in Delhi. 

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