5 Reasons Why Delhi’s Full Statehood Demand Should be Considered
There are several metaphors used for describing Delhi. The ‘schizophrenic’ state, the capital with a ‘split-personality disorder’ or the place that is operated by ‘remote control.’
And all of these analogies have to do with the fact that Delhi enjoys the character of a special Union Territory , with a few unique institutions, like an elected Legislative Assembly and a High Court. It is, however, not a full state; a point also reiterated by the Delhi High Court on 4 August. This implies that powers in Delhi are divided between the Chief Minister and the Centre, through the Lieutenant-Governor.
In its ruling, the court made it clear that Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung is the “administrative head” of the National Capital territory, quashing Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s dreams of witnessing Delhi get full statehood, something he promised he would get done in his election manifesto.
Amid months of AAP-ki Jung between the Centre and the Delhi government over who controls what, here are five reasons why Delhi’s full statehood demand should be given some serious thought.
1. The Chief Minister-Centre Tussle Creates Tension
Presently, the Delhi government does not have control over three primary bodies – the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi Police and the trifurcated Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Controlling the DDA will mean the Delhi state government will then control land and housing, which are at the moment under the central government’s prerogative. Controlling the Delhi Police which currently reports indirectly to the central government through the Lieutenant Governor, will mean the Delhi government will have more accountability in matters of law and order. Full statehood will also mean that the trifurcated MCD which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, will fall under the Delhi government’s ambit.
A dual control system not only creates inherent tension, it is also grossly unfair on the elected government. When people vote for a government in the state, their concern is how matters of law and order are handled, and not how they are getting executed. Not everybody is aware of the fact that the Delhi government does not have control over some matters.
And if there is a hiccup in something out of their jurisdiction, it could also cost the government the next election, which compounds the unfairness.
2. Delhi and the Issue of Electing its Own Bureaucrats
It was only last year the the battle between Kejriwal and Jung became a full blown war over the appointment of bureaucrats.
The tension arose because currently, Delhi cannot recruit its own cadre of officers to run the government’s administration – something other states in the country can through its own Public Service Commission.
The Centre exercises immense, albeit problematic, authority in this sphere by controlling these cadres through the Home Ministry, instead of the Delhi government.
Isn’t it only logical that an elected government get to decide its own officers, both for better accountability and transparency?
3. Delhi, NCR and the Perpetual Confusion Over Jurisdiction
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu had last year asserted that Centre approved the inclusion of three new districts under the ambit of the National Capital Region (NCR).
The NCR is already one of India’s largest and most populated regions, with over five crore people residing in it already. With further expansion, the confusion over Delhi’s government jurisdiction could be amplified.
4. The World Example
Global cases of governance can be a definitive argument in favour of considering Delhi’s full statehood option.
London, Paris or Washington DC might not be categorised as states, but they have a power system that permit the local government control over legislative, financial and administrative bodies.
Applying the same to Delhi would ensure that the elected government is not left crippled at the hands of the Union government in integral decision-making processes.
5. Not Merely an AAP Concern
The demand of full statehood is not merely an AAP concern. Both the BJP and the Congress have supported full statehood at one point in time or another. In fact, both parties promised this in their election manifesto in 2013.
Congress’ Sheila Dikshit was a staunch believer of giving Delhi full statehood while she was the chief Minister. As the power centres changed, so did her stance on the issue.
While the demand has oscillated between political parties more as a political game, granting Delhi full statehood is probably more imperative for the aam aadmi, and we certainly don’t mean the party.