The issue of full-statehood to Delhi is back to political centrestage with chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal asking for a feasibility report and holding a referendum on the issue.
Apart from cheaper power and free water, full statehood had been one of the persistent demands/promises of the Aam Aadmi Party in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections.
The party’s demand is also significant in the backdrop of the Delhi government’s ongoing power tussle with lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung on the issue of administrative control over several departments.
As per the Constitution, Delhi is just a quasi-state with the L-G as the head of the state and having complete control over law and order, land and services. The L-G reports to the Union home ministry.
If Delhi is granted full statehood, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), law and order and even the three municipal corporations would come under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. The AAP believes that this will lead to better coordination among various arms of the government and smoother implementation of the projects.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress too had taken up the demand for full statehood to Delhi off and on. The BJP raised the issue vociferously during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but it took a backseat in the party’s campaign for the assembly polls in the Capital. The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years before the AAP’s rise on the political horizon, was able to run the affairs without much friction but that was mostly due to the Congress-led government at the Centre. Now, with AAP in Delhi and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, Delhi has been witnessing one controversy after another over governance.
Sources said that the government is of the view that Delhiites should have a say in deciding what they want for the city and hence, a referendum can help the government in guaging the popular view. “The issue of multiplicity of authorities leads to lack of coordination that affects decision making. Whether it is cleaning the drains, constructing new school buildings, or maintaining law and order, people expect us to take action but we have no power. The issue of statehood has to be resolved once and for all,” said a senior Delhi government official.
The AAP government has taken the referendum route several times, including the issue of taking support from the Congress in 2013.