Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reminded residents of the Capital that he still has the capacity to surprise. On Monday, he announced that women would be allowed to travel for free on the Delhi Metro and the city’s public bus system.
The decision, which immediately provoked reactions both positive and critical, echoes earlier policy moves by his Aam Aadmi Party government that created waves, such as halving electricity bills and the odd/even car operation rule to reduce air pollution.
While Kejriwal said that the free transport plan was aimed at improving women’s safety and increasing access to transport, it also reflects AAP’s determination to seize the initiative ahead of the Assembly elections due in 2020.
Kejriwal’s announcement came less than two weeks after the Bharatiya Janata Party swept all of Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats. The results concealed another storyline: less than six years after it made a stunning debut in the Delhi state elections to win 67 of the 70 seats, AAP was relegated to third place in the national elections in the Capital with a vote share of 18.1%. At the Lok Sabha level, even the Congress had moved ahead of AAP.
Ahead of the 2020 elections, AAP is putting together a game plan to rally voters and ensure it remains in position to retain Delhi, the only state where it is a significant player.