Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal sought full statehood for Delhi in meetings with two high-profile central ministers on Wednesday as he hit the ground running a day after the AAP swept to power in the Capital.
Speaking to home minister Rajnath Singh, Kejriwal also underlined the need for “constructive cooperation” between the Centre and the Delhi government and noted that political differences should not come in the way of taking the city forward.
“We discussed the topic of statehood as many issues will find their way if Delhi is granted full statehood,” said senior party leader Manish Sisodia, who accompanied Kejriwal to the meetings. “Both AAP and BJP had promised it.”
Full statehood for Delhi and state control of police have been among the AAP’s key demands, with protests by Kejriwal on the issue shutting down roads in the heart of the Capital during his previous 49-day stint as chief minister.
When Delhi became a state with its own government in 1993, control of police was left in the hands of the union home ministry.
"As there is a BJP government at the Centre with full majority and an AAP government is being formed in Delhi, there should not be any problem in fulfilling the promise. This will be the best thing for Delhi,” Sisodia said.
The Delhi assembly has powers to legislate and administer matters other than in three areas – public order, police and land –so long as they are not “in conflict” with Parliament and the central government, experts said.
These powers were curtailed further in 2002, when the BJP-run union home ministry passed an order that said the Delhi government could not legislate without the Centre’s nod.
Kejriwal may also raise the statehood issue in his likely meeting with Narendra Modi on Thursday with the AAP inviting the Prime Minister and key members of his team to the Ramlila Maidan on Valentine’s Day when the former social activist will take oath as chief minister, exactly a year since he resigned from the post.
The AAP made history by winning 67 of the 70 Delhi assembly seats following a high-pitch campaign, leaving the BJP with a mere three while the Congress failed to open its account.
Kejriwal on Wednesday also met President Pranab Mukherjee who played peacemaker as part of the UPA government at the peak of the former activist’s Lokpal agitation.
The President gave the chief minister-designate a warm hug and gifted him two books, including a copy of the Constitution. Sisodia, who accompanied Kejriwal, said it was a mere courtesy call and no key agenda was discussed.