Delhi floods end talk of teamwork, AAP-BJP tussle begins

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has accused a plot targeting the residents of Delhi, leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to respond with a sarcastic reference to a palace of mirrors.

New Delhi: Following public statements by the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and Chief Minister expressing their commitment to work together as a team and avoid blaming each other during the crisis, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have intensified their attacks on one another over the flood-like situation in Delhi.

The AAP has accused the BJP governments in Haryana and at the Centre of conspiring against the people of Delhi. In response, the BJP sarcastically remarked that the AAP believes everyone is involved in a conspiracy, while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sits comfortably in his air-conditioned palace.

During a joint press conference aimed at showcasing unity, Mr. Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena emphasized the importance of working as a team. The Lieutenant Governor stated, "At this moment, we need to work as a team. I could say many things, but that is not what we should do right now."

Similarly, Mr. Kejriwal remarked, "In this crisis, humans should help each other. There is no point in abusing one another. The BJP has been attacking me since yesterday. Let them do it; it doesn't matter to me."

However, the message of unity seemed to have been ignored by AAP members, as Delhi Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj launched a full-fledged attack on the BJP.

"Under the leadership of BJP governments at the Centre and in Haryana, there is a conspiracy against the people of Delhi. They are intentionally causing flooding in Delhi. If it hasn't been raining in Delhi, how is it that the water level in the Yamuna is one meter higher than the previous record in 1978?" Mr. Bhardwaj alleged.

"Between July 9 and 13, water was deliberately released towards Delhi as part of this conspiracy. Last year in August, water was not only released towards Delhi but also the eastern and western canals, distributing the flow evenly between multiple states, which prevented flooding in Delhi," he added, according to news agency ANI.

Responding to these allegations, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar stated that he had explained to Mr. Kejriwal the difference between a barrage and a dam.

"The region received more rain than expected or forecasted. Rainfall in the hilly areas caused water levels to rise in our rivers. The Yamuna had 1 lakh cusecs of water, which increased to 3.7 lakh cusecs the following day. We informed Mr. Kejriwal that it is a barrage, not a dam. A dam can stop water, but a barrage can store it," explained Mr. Khattar.

He further clarified that the barrage can regulate water to a certain extent, but its capacity is limited to 1 lakh cusecs. "If the water surpasses that level, it naturally has to be released," he added.

Condemning the AAP, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia criticized Mr. Kejriwal for prioritizing excuses over work.

"The minister, whose responsibility is to work, is accusing everyone from the Army and National Disaster Response Force to the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre of conspiring. However, the person sitting comfortably in his palace, enjoying air conditioning, is considered right. That chief minister is considered right," said Mr. Bhatia.

He further stated, "The chief minister claims that 3.5 lakh cusecs of water have been released. In 2013 and 2019, 8 lakh cusecs were released, yet there was no flooding. There is flooding this time because the chief minister's priority is not work but making excuses. He blamed Punjab and Haryana for pollution and migrants for the lack of beds during the Covid-19 pandemic."

The AAP and the BJP have been engaged in a longstanding feud, which escalated in May when the Centre passed an ordinance regarding control of services in Delhi.