The Delhi government officials said on Friday that they are working on the modalities to conduct a referendum on full statehood for Delhi.
Playing down criticism over the constitutional validity of the process, officials said the aim of the exercise is to get a sense from the people on the issue.
“We have sought public opinion on the issue but even people from outside Delhi can send their views on it. But in a referendum, only the eligible voters in the city will be allowed to participate,” an official said, adding that the government is thinking over how to conduct the exercise.
Officials said the government could even use the recently notified mohalla sabhas to conduct the exercise. The Delhi government earlier this month notified 2,972 mohalla sabhas — an institutional framework to decentralise governance and ensure direct participation of citizens in choosing development projects through voting.
“The referendum, the government is talking about, could not be technically the same as people understand it. The result may not be binding on the authorities. The larger objective of the government is to get a sense of people on statehood,” an official said.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday the Capital will soon have a referendum on the full statehood issue. In July last year, the Kejriwal government had also asked its various departments to prepare a “draft law and create machinery for” holding referendum on the issue.
The chief minister had asked the urban development department to come up with a feasibility report and specify a timeline. The department was asked to give various options available to the government for conducting such a referendum. However, the plan was dropped then after a controversy erupted over the issue.
Last month, the Aam Aadmi Party government released a draft bill on full statehood for Delhi and invited suggestions from the public till June 30.
The draft bill proposes to bring all areas barring those under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Cantonment Board under the Delhi government including control over police, land, municipal corporations and the bureaucracy.