New Delhi, May 18: Revisiting an old point of contention and risking another confrontation with the central government, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has released a draft bill seeking full statehood for Delhi.
The National Capital’s elected government has been struggling to achieve this status for a very long time. Full statehood would bring the institutions such as the Delhi police, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Bureaucracy under the purview of the Delhi government. (ALSO READ: Arvind Kejriwal to announce draft bill of Statehood to Delhi today)
Achieving full statehood was one of the promises on which the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP ran its campaign in the 2015 Assembly elections. The draft bill, uploaded on the Delhi government website, is open to the general public for their perusal. In a press conference on Wednesday, Delhi CM Kejriwal invited the feedback and suggestions on the Bill through ‘fullstatehood.Delhi@gov.In’ and ‘fullstatehood. delhi@gmail.Com’ till June 30. (ALSO READ: Sharmistha Mukherjee: Delhi statehood demand political gimmick)
Urging his rival parties, BJP and Congress to support the bill and “rise above party lines,” the AAP chief went on to quote old manifestos of BJP wherein it promised full statehood. “Kiren Rijiju spoke in favour of statehood in 2006. VK Malhotra raised the issue in 2011. In its 2013 national executives, BJP reiterated its resolve in this regard. On May 25, 2014 Harsh Vardhan had said that the first issue he would raise with the new Prime Minister would be statehood,” Kejriwal said.
While the draft calls for Delhi’s elected government controlling major institutions, it has also clearly stated that the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) area will remain untouched. The Centre will retain control over NDMC which houses the Rashtapati Bhavan, the residences of the Vice President, Prime Minister and several parliamentarians along with Foreign Missions.
Speaking at a press conference, Kejriwal said, “The BJP has struggled the most on the issue. They have consistently raised it. We are merely taking their resolve forward by inviting public opinion on this draft.”
After June 30, the government will introduce the final draft of the bill in the Legislative Assembly. A special session will be called for the introduction of this bill. The Delhi assembly will then pass a resolution, which will be forwarded “to the Centre which in turn will have to bring Constitutional Amendment.”
Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in her comments on the matter said that her government had made similar demands, asking “for some part of police be given to Delhi government” in addition to “representation in DDA.” Sceptical of this move, Dikshit took a dig at AAP saying, “MCD ko to sambhal nhi paate hain, saara statehood le lenge to kaise karenge,” pointing out its incompetency in dealing with MCD. “Don’t think GoI is in a mood to give statehood to Delhi,” she added.
With inputs from agencies