OPINION: Giving full statehood to Delhi is not a good idea

Since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has come to power in the national capital Delhi, it has been in constant friction with the government at the Centre. Over one issue or the other, Delhi government has always locked horns with the Modi government.

In the 2013 Delhi Legislative Assembly election, AAP made its electoral debut. It won 28 of the 70 seats and formed a government with conditional support from the Congress party. However, because of the differences, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned after being in power for just 49 days.

In the 2015 Assembly election, AAP won 67 of the 70 seats in the Assembly and since then it has been alleging that Modi government is not allowing it to work.

Without going into the history let’s talk about the latest issue-the demand for full statehood of Delhi.

After starting a signature campaign in July, last month, AAP lawmakers led by party leader Gopal Rai went to submit over 10 lakh letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand full statehood for the national capital.

“The people of Delhi receive step-motherly treatment from the central government in their own home state. We had started a campaign for full statehood on July 1 and as part of it, we started a signature campaign addressed to the prime minister. We have received over 10 lakh signatures,” news agency PTI quoted AAP leader Gopal Rai, as saying.

Step-motherly treatment! Seriously? Delhi is the national capital of India. How can the Central government give it “step-motherly treatment”?

Why is Arvind Kejriwal demanding full statehood for Delhi?

There has been a constant tension between the CM and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi over division of power.

The LG has free say only in certain cases in relation to subjects of land, police and public order. In these, he is not bound to follow the advice of the council of ministers headed by Chief Minister. In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and council, article 239AA(4) provides a mechanism for referring a matter to the President of India.

It is a little difficult for me to understand that except the above three (land, police and public order), the Delhi government has, like other state governments, all the powers at its disposal which it can use for the welfare of the people of Delhi (irrespective of whether Delhi is given full statehood or not).

Then why AAP is insisting on the full statehood of Delhi? Is it that the party wants cops to come directly under its control?

It may be recalled that the bad blood between Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi police has a history of its own and it goes back to 2014.

Against the Union Home Ministry (which controls the police), on 20 January 2014, AAP staged protests at Rail Bhavan in Delhi. Agitation began after the former Delhi Law Minister, Somnath Bharti, was unhappy with the response from the Delhi police in Khirki Extension episode. He had levelled some serious allegations against some immigrants from Uganda.

At that time, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, reportedly, demanded that the police should come under direct control of the Delhi government. As per reports, he also insisted that officers who had refused to do as Bharti had said should be suspended.

Time and again, AAP has alleged that bureaucracy is not working in sync with the elected Delhi government.

So keeping these developments in mind it appears that demand for full statehood of Delhi is nothing but a demand to bring Delhi police under the Delhi government.

I still remember that while taking an interview of former Delhi CM Ms. Sheila Dikshit (in July 2018) when I asked her what she has to say on AAP’s demand for full statehood for Delhi, she said-“No. It can’t be given statehood for the simple reason that the Central government stays here and it is the capital of the country. And because it is a capital, it can’t be treated as a state. You can’t have a capital (of the country) in a state.” (Click here to read the full interview)

In a democracy, it is not always possible to have a same political party government at the Centre and in all the states. So differences are bound to happen when we have governments of different political parties at the centre and in the states.

How nicely two different governments work for the welfare of the people that is of utmost importance. A typical example, in this case, is of Ms. Sheila Dikshit’s government. She served Delhi for 15 years from 1998 to 2013. And despite having a government of a different party at the Centre, she carried out development works for the national capital superbly.

So instead of continuously locking horns with the Centre, Delhi government must try to find out ways by which both can work in sync so that they can work for the greater good.

About the author: Author is Deputy Editor in India TV and tweets at@AnuragSason


Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of India TV.





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