The Congress’ turnaround in the Delhi civic bypolls is a result of good groundwork by its party-men in the Capital. It all began two months ago when a survey commissioned by the Grand Old Party found high levels of dissatisfaction for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government among voters in 13 municipal wards.The internal survey revealed that issues like price rise, lack of governance and corruption topped the minds of voters.These were precisely the issues that the AAP had promised to tackle in their pre-Assembly poll campaign. Armed with vital information, Congress managers planned a micro-level strategy aimed at reaching out to voters. The plan also laid stress on emphasising the good work done by the previous Sheila Dikshit governments.It also compared the previous Congress governments’ highs with failures in the 15-month tenure of the Kejriwal government. The Grand Old Party also used this opportunity to counter the BJP by stoking the dissatisfaction of voters with regard to the Narendra Modi government.Strategy shift In a shift from the past, when a Congress candidate would just criss-cross the narrow bylanes of wards while waving at curious onlookers and residents, a total of 10 booth-level teams were formed and tasked with conducting a door-to-door campaign.Partymen say they visited each house at least three to four times on a daily basis. From merely distributing pamphlets, the focus this time was on holding extensive interactive sessions with voters and listening to their problems.This renewed approached helped the Congress to bridge the gap between its workers and voters. It also resulted in people comparing the 15-month Kejriwal rule to 15 years of the Sheila Dikshit government.advertisementIn a bid to monitor the execution of the strategy, the teams were asked to send around two dozen pictures of their interactions with the voters on WhatsApp. Small corner meetings were also held to connect with the women voters and they elicited a positive response. A ward-level Hindi newspaper, titled Congress Sankalp, was published based on the issues flagged by the Congress.In a symbolic gesture, the Congress also threw 15 posers at Kejriwal as his government completed 15 months in office. Separate manifestoes were released for each ward based on the inputs of voters regarding the issues plaguing them.Recalling an incident during the campaign, a Congress leader said voters in Munirka slum asked them to do away with the white Gandhi caps with Tricolour as voters mistook them to be AAP volunteers.Grand Old Party back again? AAP workers sport a similar cap with the party symbol, broom. Even Congress nominee Yogita Rathi had to take her cap off while campaigning. The voters also said they wanted to teach AAP workers a lesson as they had disappeared after the Assembly polls last year.In Khichripur ward, an elderly couple was angry over the nonpayment of old age pension for over a year. They said they had no hopes from the AAP government.Congress managers claimed that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi lending his weight behind the safai karamcharis, street vendors and the slumdwellers of Shakur Basti also sent out a message that the poor could look up to the Grand Old Party once again.The Congress had lost its traditional Dalit vote bank to AAP in 2015 and the victory in the civic bypolls is significant as the party had no presence in these areas since 2007.
Clark’s Point set-netter Alannah Hurley talks to Board of Fisheries chair Tom Kluberton about her proposal, which would have allowed setnetters to extend their nets to recoup some fishing time that has been lost as the mudflats fill in there. The board formed a committee to help develop guidelines for addressing coastal change, rather than taking action on that proposal or another that discussed set-net site boundaries. (Photo by Molly Dischner/KDLG)The Board of Fisheries’ new coastal change committee will hold its first meeting next month. The committee is helping the board develop some guidelines for how it deals with commercial fishing boundaries that change along with Alaska’s coastline.Download AudioChanges to Alaska’s coastline and creeks could affect fishing boundaries, but the state Board of Fisheries is waiting to weigh in on possible fixes until a new committee can delve into the issue.BOF Executive Director Glenn Haight said the new committee will hold a preliminary scoping meeting Jan. 4.“The committee was set up to help develop criteria that the board can use when it’s dealing with proposals that are impacted by coastal erosion, and so really it’s not like any other list of criteria the board may look at when it deliberates on certain proposals,” he said. “They have the allocation criteria and the sustainable salmon criteria they follow when they deal with those types of proposals, so this would be similar to that.”Call-in sites will be available at the Dillingham and King Salmon Fish and Game offices, as well as in Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage. Individuals can also provide public testimony via teleconference, but must sign up to do so by Jan. 2. Written comments are also being accepted through Jan. 2.This is just the first meeting, Haight said.“The committee needs to wrap its arms around all the aspects that affect these kinds of decisions, whether they’re related to DNR issues, legal issues, enforcement issues, people’s historical use patterns, and things that are happening because of coastal erosion,” Haight said. “They need to put their arms around all of that and try to develop criteria.”The committee was formed at the Bristol Bay finfish meeting in Anchorage in early December, when the board heard testimony from several set-netters asking the board to make their sites whole after time and tides have taken their toll.No one questions whether Dick Armstrong fished the first Graveyard Point sites for decades. But over time, boundary markers have moved and Graveyard Creek has shifted its course, and the family says the sites they have fished for decades are no longer part of the legal Naknek-Kvichak fishing district. So the entire and extended Armstrong clan asked the board to change a boundary at Graveyard Point.At Clark’s Point, the opposite has occurred: the mud flats have filled in, reducing the fishing time for several sites. So set-netters asked the board to allow them to put their nets farther out into the ocean. That proposal was submitted by Alannah Hurley, with support from those at most adjacent sites, and others in the region.The board tabled those requests, instead forming a new committee to consider just how the board should react to environmental change, whether it occurs in Bristol Bay or elsewhere on Alaska’s coast. Board chair Tom Kluberton, of Talkeetna, proposed waiting and forming the committee instead.“I think it’s a really important thing for us to address,” Kluberton said at the meeting. “We know these things came on over a long period of time, but after this meeting I’m absolutely certain we’re going to see an ever-increasing volume of these kind of things.”The new committee is tasked with developing a set of criteria for the board to consider when they look at regulation changes due to erosion issues, new coastline, lost coastline, and similar issues. Board members Reed Morisky, who has experience with construction, and Robert Mumford, who has enforcement experience, were named as members, and asked to consult with the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Department of Law. Other board members also said they wanted to participate in the committee’s meetings.The board discussed having the committee work quickly to address the issues, but did not commit to a firm timeline, in part because Kluberton said they couldn’t control the schedules of the other departments.The committee is expected to report back on its progress at the board’s January meeting, in Fairbanks, focused on the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region. Haight said there will likely be another meeting after the committee’s first meeting in January.The board’s action is a little slower than what set-netters were looking for, and it’s unclear if the issues will wind up resolved before next summer.Dillingham’s Janet Armstrong-Schlagel said she had hoped the board would take action at this meeting to fix the issue, but understood the board’s choice to be more deliberate.“But at this meeting we have heard of many other areas that have suffered the erosion,” she said. “I didn’t realize that so many other setnetters were affected by it. So I think that if we are going to set the precedent, we can do it for the benefit of many people. So it’s frustrating that we did not get a resolution, but I’m encouraged that they aren’t just kicking it down the road.”Board member Fritz Johnson, a drift permit holder from Dillingham, said he would’ve preferred the board take swifter action to fix a known problem, but accepted that the committee approach was appropriate.“I wish we could solve this problem immediately for the folks on this beach, but I’m guessing that what has been suggested is that we take a broader view and a longer-term view because we will be facing this situation again I’m sure,” he said.Board members referenced again and again that their action could set a precedent for how they respond to similar situations in the future – that was heard in public testimony during the meeting, too.Although the issue at each site is a little different, Armstrong-Schlagel said they’re all in the same boat.“It’s a pretty emotional thing,” she said. “We’re not just talking about lines, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods.”