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The making of a capital state

delhi Updated: Dec 07, 2011 01:34 IST
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It could not have been a bigger moment for Delhi. With its ever expanding boundaries and burgeoning population — thanks to the migration of people from neighbouring states for a better life — the central government decided to give Delhi a special status.

The Centre gave Delhi a legislative assembly without compromising on its status of a union territory.

With an amendment in the Constitution and passing of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act of 1991, the Centre paved the way for a state government in Delhi. The first assembly elections were held in November 1993 and Delhi’s first elected government in the modern set up — council of six ministers led by chief minister Madan Lal Khurana — took oath in December 1993.

New Delhi was made the capital of India in 1911, triggering massive migration of population from neighbouring states.

Keeping the ever-growing population and demand for better facilities in the Capital in mind, the British government and later the Indian government in post-Independence era tried experimenting with several modules to run the administration of the city.

While the legislative assembly could only survive for just about four years, the all-strong Municipal Corporation was also divested its powers slowly. The Metropolitan Council — which was more of a debating chamber than a legislative one — though had a relatively longer run, but was ultimately wound up to give Delhi a better and decentralised administration.

The government-appointed Balakrishnan Committee and Sarkaria Commission recommended a legislative assembly for Delhi but with limited powers prompting the Centre to pass an act to the effect.

“Being the Capital city — which houses Parliament, has offices of several central government organisations and armed forces and the embassies and high commissions of various countries — the central government was always concerned if it was a good idea to give policing to the state government. Despite being the Capital, which had multiplicity of authorities that the Centre wanted to do away with, it ended up creating more confusion by involving so many agencies,” said a senior Delhi government official, who did not want to be named.

The confusion not only gave birth to a state government, Delhi continued to have a municipal corporation — which was not controlled by the state government — a municipal council for the area that housed offices, the ministers and the officers in the central government, along with direct interference of the centre in matters of policing and land.

While the people of Delhi too had a moment to rejoice — with having the right to elect its own government which would look after its interests — their dreams are still to turn into

Delhi Metropolitan Council: An interim set-up

After the legislative assembly was abolished in October 1956, Delhi was run by the central govt through its representative — the lieutenant governor. Seeing the speed at which the city started expanding, the Centre decided to give Delhi its own administrative set up and constituted the Delhi Metropolitan Council in September 1966. The council had 56 elected and 5 nominated members, and was headed by the chief executive councillor. The council — which was more of a deliberative body with little powers — had three executive councillors who looked after different departments. it had a term of three years. The chief executive councillor was seen as the CM of a union territory. Since there was a constant demand for a legislative assembly for Delhi, the metropolitan department was finally abolished in 1990.