“Please ask Arvind Kejriwal what happened to his promise of turning Delhi into a London, Paris or New York.”
On Wednesday, Gautam Gambhir, former Indian cricketer and BJP MP from East Delhi, made this comment while taking a swipe at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister.
While campaigning for the civic body polls in 2017, Kejriwal had promised to make the capital look like London in a year if his party wins the elections. In 2020, he said he would make roads in Delhi like those of London and Tokyo in the next five years, adding that his focus was to beautify Delhi and 40 roads were being redesigned in the city. In 2021, the Delhi government had also chalked out a plan to redevelop the Central Ridge along the lines of New York’s Central Park. Kejriwal claimed to make Delhi as clean and green as New York.
When Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar, he remarked that the roads of Bihar, which were like the cheeks of Bollywood actor Om Puri, would be made like the cheeks of actress Hema Malini. The objectionable comment, which Lalu later denied, created a lot of furor.
POLITICIANS AT IT
Kejriwal has been making plans from time to time to emulate the Western cities. However, he is not the only one. There have many leaders who have made such promises and implemented ambitious plans to change the face of the cities. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Narendra Modi: In 2011, when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, he said that Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad would be developed as world-class twin cities and would be given a recognition which would be parallel to what is enjoyed by New York-New Jersey. A number of international activities were planned to ensure that Gandhinagar got global recognition. Modi had also given a huge impetus to solar energy in both the cities and appealed to people to make the state capital “a green city”.
Mayawati: “Hamara Lucknow ab Paris ki tarah aalishan our sundar lagta hai (Our Lucknow looks as magnificent and beautiful as Paris now),” Mayawati, then the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had said during a rally in Lucknow in 2012 ahead of the elections. She had justified splurging on construction of monuments dedicated to Dalit leaders while equating the city with Paris. Plans were also made for the main city road – Hazratganj – to give it a look like the capital of France.
Mamata Banerjee: In 2011, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her plan to turn Kolkata into London. In 2017, she had said: “London and Kolkata are essentially twin cities. We have cultural closeness and the same types of structures that we see in London are also to be found in Kolkata. Not only this, we also share a strong bonding in the field of education.” In 2019, she reiterated her call to make Kolkata another London and also said that her government wants to turn Darjeeling into another Switzerland.