Lack of funding and non-formation of key committees in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has not just led to stalled projects across the city but has also resulted in a bunch of disaffected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillors.

According to sources, a meeting of councilors and senior party leaders was held Saturday to discuss the Lok Sabha polls and the strategy in the corporation — several did not attend.

While the party leadership attributed the absence to school vacations and the last-minute call for the meeting, some councilors said they were not informed. As per sources, out of the 134 councilors that AAP has, only around 100 turned up.

Many councilors were not in the city because their children had school vacations. Some cited prior engagements. A good number attended and all our councilors stand with the party,” a senior party leader said.

Of the 16 councilors The Indian Express contacted, seven said they were not present — of these, one councilor said she wasn’t in town. Two councilors claimed not to have been informed of the meeting and two others disconnected the call on being asked about the meeting. Five councilors said they were present.

Festive offer

A councillor, who did not want to be named, said, “I wasn’t invited to the meeting, they avoid inviting me to these meetings… The councilors are unhappy, funds have not been released yet so no work can take place, they ask us to call the MLAs for every small thing, we have no power.”

Vijay Kumar, the councilor from Trilokpuri ward, who had filed the nomination for the mayoral polls in April against the party’s wishes, also said he was not informed of the meeting.

Others, like Daryaganj councilor Sarika Chaudhary said they weren’t at the meeting as they weren’t in town. Bankner ward councilor Dinesh Kumar too said he could not attend.

The crisis

The party made history when it won 134 seats out of 250 in the municipal polls held in 2022, dislodging the Bharatiya Janata Party after three terms. It was AAP’s first win in the municipal polls. Since then, it has been a rough road with the ward as well as the standing committees not being formed. The internal mayoral elections, too, are hanging fire with the Delhi LG expressing inability to appoint a presiding officer for the polls “in the absence of inputs from the Chief Minister”.

The power to clear any projects worth over Rs 5 crore rests with the Standing Committee. None of the 12 ward committees have been formed either.

A plea against the L-G’s appointment of aldermen to the Standing Committee without consultation with the elected government has been pending in the Supreme Court since May 2023. In January, Mayor Shelly Oberoi filed a petition in the apex court, asking that powers of the Standing Committee to be given to the “House of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi”. This plea was adjourned in February.

According to a councilor who did not want to be named, people reach out to them for simple things such as repairing drains and small roads and streets but work is at a complete standstill. “We have no power. We understand that this is because of the fight between the LG and BJP and AAP but people’s patience is running out,” he said.

According to those present in the meeting, the arrest of CM Arvind Kejriwal as well as the way forward before the next assembly polls were discussed during the meeting. “They told us we have to stick together, that we do not have to break because of Kejriwal ji’s arrest, almost all councilors were present,” said Shweta Khatri, councilor from Narela.

Prem Chauhan, councilor from Dakshinpuri Extension, said the formation of ward and zonal committees was discussed during the meeting.

As per a senior party leader, during the meeting, councilors were told to approach MLAs for funds to complete work.

“With assembly polls around the corner, every councilor needs to work to make sure the party comes back to power. We understand there is a problem in getting funds to get projects completed; we have told councilors to get funds from MLAs, who will use their MLA LAD funds for this purpose. The issue of ward and standing committees can’t be resolved till the SC verdict. In its absence, we’ve to ensure work like clearing drains, making new ones, repairing small roads and work related to water is carried out,” a party leader said.