Though Delhi got an elected legislative assembly — with a chief minister and a council of ministers — in 1993, the fight for full statehood still continues.
Law and order and land-related matters are still out of the purview of the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
While the Union home ministry deals with law and order, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) — which owns a major chunk of land in Delhi — is part of the Union Urban Development Ministry. The lieutenant governor, considered the Centre’s representative in Delhi, is chairman of DDA. The police commissioner of Delhi too reports to the lieutenant governor.
“We have been demanding full statehood for Delhi. We passed the first resolution demanding complete statehood for Delhi and all related powers way back in 1956,” said Vijay Kumar Malhotra, leader of the opposition and longest serving chief executive councillor of Delhi.
“Full statehood for Delhi has always been a part of our election manifesto,” Malhotra added. “The Congress government in Delhi and in the Centre do not want it to happen.”
Senior BJP leader in Delhi, Dr Harshwardhan, said development projects fail to take off just because land is not the Delhi government’s subject.
“To set up new schools and hospitals, land is required. DDA used to take years to transfer a plot of land for a hospital. Even the follow-ups with the land owning agency used to have little impact,” said Dr Harshwardhan, who served as health and education minister in the BJP government in Delhi from 1993 to 1998. “Without control over the police and land, Delhi cannot be called a state,” said Dr Harshwardhan.
Not just the opposition BJP, some Congress MLAs in Delhi too have been vocal in their demand for full statehood for Delhi. According to senior Delhi government officials, the state assembly had passed resolutions demanding full statehood for Delhi seven times in the past few years.
The last one was in the winter session of Delhi assembly in 2010 when four-time Congress MLA Mukesh Sharma stoked a debate in the house after the LG returned the Delhi government’s proposal to increase circle rates for reconsideration.