Talking about providing Delhi the status of full statehood, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently mentioned that Delhi Government will conduct an ‘opinion poll’. Earlier the AAP government had appealed for conducting a referendum but since there is no provision of it in the Indian Constitution, it will now conduct a public opinion poll and gather mass vote to support its plea for full statehood to Delhi. Through the medium of this poll Delhi government will ask the people of Delhi whether land and police should come under the elected government.
Delhi as a National Capital Region has been given special status among Union Territories. According to Article 239AA and 239AB of Indian Constitution, the NCT govt does not have Public Order, Police and Land in its purview. And this is the very fact that has led to a series of debate amongst all successive governments in Delhi and the Union Government, for granting proper statehood to Delhi.
Now, other than the above mentioned crucial functions that the Delhi government does not have access to, there are several other decision processes as well in which Delhi government has little to no say. Thus, it will only be fair to say that Delhi government does not enjoy the same power like the other state governments, and that is why the demand for ‘full statehood’ seems to be legit and credible. However, ‘full statehood’ has its own implications, it’s not to be ignored pros and cons, which need to be properly understood before making any decision.
- Like any other political party, the CM and legislature in Delhi too are elected by the people. In order to deliver its promises, Delhi government should be given sufficient power.
- Delhi has been increasingly becoming an unsafe place to live in. Women safety has been questioned time and again especially after incidents like Nirbhaya case. It is important that Delhi Police becomes stronger and more efficient and for that the elected government in Delhi should have a direct intervention.
- For any sort of infrastructural development, Delhi government has to depend on the Central government since land does not fall under its purview. In order to fasten the process of progress, development and growth, Delhi government should have a free hand like other state governments.
- Being the capital of India, the administration and public order can’t be handled the way it is done in other states of India. After getting ‘full statehood’ it would become a super state, looking over the security of Central government, which is not a very viable option.
- Institutions like Delhi Police and Delhi University are funded by the Central government. In order to make proper amends tax payers money should be taken into account.
- Delhi plays host to a large number of foreign dignitaries and investments which fall under the jurisdiction of Central government.
- Delhi Police also takes care of VIP security, which is not a minor task. Most of the VIPs fall under the central government. Can the VIP security be fully given to the state government?
- Delhi is a mixture of language, people and culture. There is a high probability that ‘full statehood’ to Delhi might encourage regionalism.
After becoming a state, Delhi will not be eligible to run on subsidies provided by the Central government. Delhi will have to rely on its own resources to provide services to its citizens.
Once Delhi attains Statehood, it would have to strategize its revenue earnings. Apart from value added taxes, there are entry, exit, parking charges on vehicles and property. Annual property taxes, vehicle taxes and land rents would have to be raised. Also, Delhi would have to pay for its own law and order cost. It would need a substantial amount to maintain public transport and the ticket of Delhi Metro will have to go high.
Delhi state cannot solely rely on traditional industries. It would need high value adding industries with high wages. And these kind of jobs can only be done by skilled individuals. Delhi would have to pull bigger resources and manpower in order to pave way for development.
Delhi state would need proper governance structures. A mix of rural and urban population, Delhi cannot just rely upon gram sabhas. It would need to balance its population diversity and would have to be more efficient and planned.
Delhi would have to build its power resources which have to be clean energy based, which would be a substantial amount of investment. Energy through coal would have to be bought from other states at market rates. Water and power both will become more expensive.
Surrounded by three other states, Delhi will eventually run out of land. Benefits of growth and development would leak to other states of Rajasthan, UP and Haryana.
The squabble over what is in the best interest for Delhi has been going on over a long period of time. There is a lot that is at stake. While the debate of making Delhi a state falls well within all sorts of legality, the bigger question is, has this decision been thought through? This matter has to be looked beyond political interests and must be treated as an issue of National interest. Public opinion will be a key to this process, and it is extremely important for the public to be aware.