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Odd-even is a political gimmick. It has nothing to do with pollution

11 30 0
14.09.2019

The odd-even car rationing scheme, aimed at reducing air pollution, has been implemented twice in Delhi. Round one was from 1-15 January 2016, and round two was 15-30 April same year.

The scheme is aimed only at diesel and petrol cars, and as such could have alienated car-owning Delhiites from the Aam Aadmi Party. To ask car owners to not take out their cars three days a week is a big ask. Car owners are so used to the comforts of their car. They don’t like to get pushed and shoved around in public transport. Have you seen how crowded the Delhi Metro gets in peak hours?

But even if car owners had not liked the scheme, the AAP wouldn’t have lost much. It would only have served to heighten the class polarisation in Delhi. The electorate of Delhi is divided between rich and poor, people who live in gated colonies and those who live in “unauthorised settlements” aka slums. The Aam Aadmi Party is clear that it is after the votes of the poor, who are much greater in number.

Also read: Delhi won’t need odd-even scheme, says Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari

As it turned out, the odd-even scheme was a huge hit with car owners. It gave them a sense of sacrifice and achievement. It made them feel they were doing something to help reduce air pollution in Delhi. For those two weeks, the entire city and the entire country was talking about odd-even. The AAP government in Delhi was advertising the scheme, not just in Delhi but across India. It had even the international press eating out of its hands.

Any government programme that requires mass public participation helps the government become a talking point. How many citizens in Delhi would know whether or not the Delhi government has shut down the polluting power plants?

By now, we are familiar with these things because Narendra Modi uses such tricks a lot. Demonetisation, similarly, gave people a sense of sacrifice and contributing to a cause; it made sure everyone knows of Modi’s fight against black money; when it started failing, the Modi government shifted goalposts and said it was never about black money; and when it completely failed,........

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