Denial of statehood to Delhi is an “attack on the asmita (pride)” of its residents, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday — his first public comments on the issue since suffering a legal setback in his government’s bid to gain complete administrative control of the Union territory.
Kejriwal, who returned from a 10-day meditation course in Dharamsala on Thursday, said he will continue the fight for full statehood as “goons in the higher echelons of power” were hampering his government’s work.
“Why should the value of a Delhi citizen’s vote be less than that of a Haryana voter? Why should the power of a government elected by a Haryana voter be greater than that of the government elected by a Delhiite? This is Delhi citizens’ insult. It’s an attack on their asmita (pride),” Kejriwal said at a function to unveil a statue of Chaudhary Brahma Prakash, Delhi’s first chief minister, at an ayurvedic centre in southwest Delhi’s Najafgarh. “We live in the national capital, but our vote carries no value.”
“We have taken up the cause of the people and will take it to a logical conclusion… Kai baar seedhi ungli se ghee nahi nikalta toh ungli tedi karni padti hai. Yeh itne bade bade gunde baithe hain, yeh aise nahin maante (we will employ all means necessary to achieve our goal as we are up against goons sitting in the higher echelons of power),” he said.
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government has been embroiled in a tug-of-war with the Centre — which controls the Delhi Police and key agencies like the Delhi Development Authority — since coming to power in February 2014 and has accused it of interfering in official appointments and day-to-day functioning through lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung.
Jung has in turn accused the AAP government of disregarding established protocol.
The tussle is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a Union territory functioning as the Capital.
In a blow to the AAP government, the Delhi high court on August 4 ruled that the L-G was the administrative head of the city, which is essentially a Union territory, and was not bound to act as per the advice of the Delhi cabinet. The city government said it will challenge the ruling in Supreme Court.