The suspense over statehood for Delhi and BJP’s changing stance | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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The suspense over statehood for Delhi and BJP’s changing stance

May 13, 2024 08:43 AM IST

In 2014, the BJP in its manifesto promised full statehood for Delhi, pointing out that it would end multiplicity of agencies

The Aam Admi Party (AAP), contesting four of the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital, has reiterated its promise of statehood to Delhiites, a demand the party has been raising since 2013.

View from the Kartavya Path on a hot summer day in New Delhi. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)
View from the Kartavya Path on a hot summer day in New Delhi. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)

The demand for complete statehood for Delhi was on the BJP’s agenda for decades. While targeting state governments over various administrative deficiencies, BJP leaders would refer to the quasi-statehood of Delhi as an impediment in governance and ensuring law and order.

In 2014, the BJP in its manifesto promised full statehood for Delhi, pointing out that it would end multiplicity of agencies. It claimed vesting the powers such as law and order and urban development with the state government would end the dependence on the Union government.

In the past five years, the party has, however, not been explicit in its demand. Its political opponents claim that the Delhi Services Bill (GNCTD Amendment Bill), which was passed in Parliament last year to grant the Lieutenant Governor authority over the appointment of bureaucrats, impinges on the mandate of the state government.

The AAP has accused the BJP of reneging its promise of statehood for Delhi and through the Bill give discretionary powers to the LG even in matters under the purview of the Delhi assembly.

The demand for statehood was led by Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP. In 1966, the tussle for statehood led to the Union government constituting the Delhi Metropolitan Council (DMC), which had a chairman, a chief executive councillor (CEC), and executive councillors similar to ministers. But it was an advisory body.

Over the years, the demand for statehood figured in the BJP’s election manifesto. In 1998, former CM Sahib Singh Verma prepared a draft bill for full statehood and the State of Delhi Bill, 2003 was tabled in Lok Sabha the same year by the then deputy PM LK Advani. The BJP, however, lost the Delhi assembly election in December 2003 and with that ended the bid for statehood.

The demand gradually receded to the back burner after 2014 when the BJP stormed to the Centre with a commanding mandate. Party leaders offer no explanation on the change of track and why the BJP has chosen to dispense an issue that has been part of its political journey in Delhi.

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