Full Statehood for Delhi an election ploy
As often as the moon waxes and wanes, the politicians in the Capital raise the issue of full statehood for the city. The issue has been deliberated upon an innumerable time with all being aware that it is a chimera to cover up their failures or be relevant.
The latest to jump onto the bandwagon has been the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling dispensation of the national Capital. It has announced a campaign with 10 lakh signatures from the residents of the city demanding full statehood for the national capital. For a party that grew out of anti-corruption movement in 2014 remaining in a form of perennial agitation mode are both a tactic for survival and a cover up for its inefficiencies.
As the general elections draw closer and various alliances seem to be relegating the AAP to irrelevance, the party led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has latched on to the demand for statehood to Delhi. It is being pushed as a panacea for all the ills faced by the city.
New Delhi by virtue of being the national capital cannot be given statehood like other regions of the Indian Union. To look at it in a perspective, the city was considered a separate province under the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935, but was governed by the Chief Commissioner.
After Independence, the city was defined as Part ‘C’ State and given a Legislative Assembly with a Chief Minister. However, the arrangement was unsatisfactory as powers remained with the Chief Commissioner. However, the arrangement of Part ‘C’ State was done away in 1956 with the creation of a Metropolitan Council.
The arrangement was resented by politicians of both the then Bhartiya Jana Sangh, precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Congress. In 1991, the present arrangement of a Legislative Assembly with limited authority was opted for to meet the growing demand from the political class. Lieutenant Governor, however, continued to have overriding powers, as usual. Since inception the Centre and Delhi government has been governed by different political parties. Yet the arrangement worked with minor hiccups.
All political parties are aware that the granting of full statehood to the national capital, which houses the various Central government offices and foreign missions is fraught with risks. It would create problems for both the Centre and the State government. The nine-day sit in by Kejriwal at the ante room of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal office-cum-residence reaffirms believe that no Central government would grant full statehood to Delhi.
Though the analogy may be unfair, in the erstwhile Soviet Union used to be a senior member of the Communist Party politburo. It was a way of ensuring that a demagogue did not hold the city which housed all important offices to ransom as Boris Yeltsin did in the last days of the communist regime.
Does Kejriwal see himself as the Indian version of the Russian demagogue who brought the regime crashing down?