NEW DELHI -- In the minds of the Delhi voter, there is no ambivalence about full statehood -- 81% of them would support it if a referendum on the matter were to be held today, as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wants to.
This finding is from a survey conducted by C-Voter, which put the question to its panel of more than 3,000 Delhi voters chosen to reflect the census profile of the state.
The support sustains across divisions of caste, class, gender, education and occupation. And in what will give pause to BJP president Amit Shah, a majority of Delhi voters who identify themselves as BJP voters also support full statehood for the National Capital Territory.
New Delhi, India's capital and the seat of the national government and its Parliament, exists as a somewhat odd entity -- its government enjoys limited powers. Police powers, most notably, is with the central government in Delhi. Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party has argued that this must change. Other parties have resisted it, saying status quo was necessary to ensure the smooth running of the national capital and to ensure the safety of the high concentration of VIPs in the city.
In recent months, the tussle between the BJP government at the Centre and the AAP government in Delhi has grown bitter, as the CM has clashed frequently with the lieutenant governor--seen as acting at the behest of the central government--nearly precipitating a constitutional crisis.
While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked his urban development department for a referendum, BJP has sharply opposed the move. Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken called the demand "unconstitutional and anti-national".
The survey found that 62 percent of BJP voters and 85 percent of Congress supporters support Kejriwal's quest for complete statehood for Delhi. 92% of women support the move, as against 73% men.
Interestingly, opinion is divided on whether this would actually solve issues related to governance and law & order. While 46 percent of the respondents were hopeful this would bring forth a change, 26% disagreed. 28% of respondents believed full statehood would actually have no effect whatsoever.
Most people — including a significant number of AAP supporters — believe that AAP is pushing for full statehood to divert the opposition parties' attention from the string of controversies it has found itself in the midst of, since coming to power with an overwhelming mandate in February this year.
In response to a question about who -- AAP in Delhi or the BJP government at the centre -- was doing more for Delhi, 48% pointed to AAP and 30% to the BJP. 22% believed that the two parties were fighting with each other and wasting time.