Arvind Kejriwal Is Right, Delhi Deserves Full Statehood

09/01/2016 10:00 AM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:44 PM IST
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Why should Delhi not get full statehood? The main arguments we are given for this are, one, that Delhi can’t be a state since it is the national capital, and two, that policing has to be with the central government since the national capital sees the coming and going of VIPs all the time, and has to manage the sensitive diplomatic enclave too.

As a result, the police in Delhi is not answerable to the people of Delhi. Since the central government has to ensure security for VIPs in central Delhi, people in Punjabi Bagh can’t have a say in policing in Delhi. In Goa, whose population (15 lakhs) is less than Delhi’s (1.7 crore), people are able to use their vote to exFpress how they feel about the state of law and order.

In Delhi, law and order – and much else – is run by the central government, elected by people across India. Why should all of India decide who the station house officer of Mehrauli police station be?

Arvind Kejriwal has rightly said that the central government can keep the New Delhi Municipal Corporation areas with it, and delegate the rest to the Delhi government.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has rightly said that the central government can keep the New Delhi Municipal Corporation areas with it, and delegate the rest to the Delhi government. This seems like an eminently sensible suggestion. The New Delhi Municipal Corporation already reports to the central government, whereas the other municipal corporations don’t.

But why would a BJP government give away powers to an AAP government, when even a Congress government in the centre for ten years didn’t give full statehood to Delhi, which was then run by the Congress’ own Sheila Dikshit.

Truth is, the Ministry of Home Affairs, like any other arm of the government, will not want to give away any powers it has. In charge of national security, the Home Ministry thinks it is very much its birthright to administer law and order in Shahdara, east Delhi.

arvind kejriwal

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

The argument we are given is that too much time and energy would be wasted in co-ordinating between the centre and the state government over issues pertaining to foreign diplomats in Delhi, should diplomats face or create any problems in areas governed by the Delhi government. By that logic, the police in Gurgaon should also be made to report directly to the central government. Remember the case recently involving a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Gurgaon? Foreign diplomats often travel across India, but the central government hasn’t abrogated the powers of the state government over the police in the rest of India.

In UK, the City of London Police administers law and order in the 2.8 square kilometres of the City of London area. The rest of Greater London is protected by the Metropolitan Police Service. In Washington DC, the Metropolitan Police Department reports to the city's elected mayor. In Mexico City, only the Federal District's police is controlled by the central government, the rest of the city’s police reports to the state government.

The Modi government doesn’t even let Arvind Kejriwal appoint and transfer bureaucrats, leave alone let it have the Delhi Police.

The Modi government doesn’t even let Arvind Kejriwal appoint and transfer bureaucrats, leave alone let it have the Delhi Police. The reason why Delhi deserves full statehood unlike other union territories is the size of it population. With 1.7 crore citizens, Delhi is larger than all other union territories combined. Chandigarh is merely ten lakh people.

It is important that citizens have a say in policing, and the local government is able to closely supervise policing in consultation with the public.

The Sixty-ninth Amendment Act, 1991, gave Delhi a “special status amongst the Union Territories,” changing its name from “Union Territory of Delhi” to “National Capital Territory of Delhi.” It is time to take the next logical step.

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