• Kejriwal makes draft statehood bill public, invites suggestions

    May 19, 2016

    The AAP’s election manifesto was full of promises and one of them was the promise of statehood for the National Capital. The promise seems to be finally closing in on completion, after the CM made the draft statehood bill public and invited suggestions and corrections from the general public.
    The draft proposes to hand over control of police and land (Delhi Development Authority) to the state government, with the exception of NDMC and Delhi Cantonment Board areas that would stay with the Centre. It further recommends that Delhi will cease to be a Union territory and come to be known as the State of Delhi. The state will also get control of the municipal corporations and all taxes and duties, including land revenue.
    There is also a proposal for a separate cadre of civil servants for Delhi in the UPSC if Delhi becomes a full state.
    However, there is this major block in the way for the AAP government to pass this Bill. For the successful completion of the passing of the bill, the Bill needs to be passed by the Centre as well as the AAP government. While the latter will be a cakewalk in the Assembly, the passing by the Centre will be a problematic proposition as the AAP government has hit rocky waters with the government at power at the Centre.
    Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said a special session of the assembly might need to be held where a resolution to grant full statehood to Delhi would be passed and sent to the Centre. If the Centre decides to pass the Bill, it will have to amend the Constitution.
    The Bill will be available till June 30 for comments and during this time, the state government will also reach out to other parties for consensus-building. "We will send a copy of the draft to all senior members of political parties and meet the Prime Minister, the presidents of BJP and Congress, state representatives of these parties, leader of opposition in Delhi etc. We will also hold a meeting of all Delhi parties to prepare a final draft," said Kejriwal.
    The draft has also taken liberally from the first draft of the Bill prepared under the chief ministership of BJP's Sahib Singh Verma in 1998.
    "BJP first took up the demand in 1988. Subsequently, most senior party members associated with Delhi have raised the issue. The party has also made it an election promise on several occasions, the demand being listed clearly in its manifestos. When Verma was Delhi CM in 1998, a draft Bill for full statehood of Delhi was prepared. The Bill was presented in Parliament in August 2003 by the then deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani, and referred to a standing committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee," said Kejriwal.


    The statehood problem for the National Capital has been one that has haunted multiple governments in power. From the BJP to the Congress and now the AAP, the statehood proposition should be passed by both the Centre and the State Assembly. If the BJP stalls it at the Centre, it will amount to hypocrisy, as it has supported the cause when it was in power. If it refuses to cooperate this time round, it will only be a case of dirty politics coming in the way of good governance.

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