The Aam Aadmi Party government was ready to go any length to ensure full statehood to Delhi, law minister Kapil Mishra said on Monday.
Reacting to an exclusive HT report that the Delhi government had proposed to carry out a referendum on the issue, Mishra said the government would do everything in its power to see that Delhi was granted full statehood.
“What is the harm in taking opinion from the public? Those who are afraid of taking people’s opinion have been ousted by the people (in the assembly polls),” the minister said, pointing out that it was one of the key focus areas of the government.
“People (in other states) have right on their land and police, similarly the citizens of Delhi should also have these rights. Why should we be denied our right? Mishra, who was recently inducted into the Kejriwal cabinet, asked.
The minister targeted political opponents -- the BJP and the Congress -- for abandoning the issue after raising it for several years.
“The BJP and the Congress had promised full statehood to Delhi. They forgot their promise, but AAP did not. The AAP government will not sit quiet. No one can stop Delhi from getting full statehood,” he said.
The law minister assured that legal complications will not be allowed to stall the issue. “Legal issues will not be allowed to come in the way of ensuring full statehood to Delhi. Yes, it is a political issue. Only the BJP and the Congress go back on their promises, we won’t,” he said.
He said the legal department would see to it that the referendum was carried out in an organised manner.
In fact, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has directed the urban development and legal departments to speed up work on a Delhi statehood bill. “Do a referendum in Delhi. Draft a law and create machinery for referendum,” says the note by the CM, a copy of which is with HT, addressed to the urban development department.
Mishra said the demand for full statehood to Delhi had been there since 1993, when Delhi got an elected assembly.
“Proposals didn’t materialise because of lack of political will. BJP leader LK Advani had brought in a legislation in the parliament but he could not get it passed despite being it being his government at the centre. But AAP has the required will. It is high time the people got it (statehood). We will not tolerate step-motherly treatment to the people of Delhi,” he said.