Opening another potential flashpoint with the Centre, the AAP government today released a draft bill on full statehood to Delhi, seeking to bring police, land and bureaucracy under its control, and invited suggestions from the public till June 30.
An all-party meeting will be held on the issue, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said while urging rivals BJP and Congress to “rise above differences” and went on to quote from old manifestos of BJP wherein the party had promised full statehood.
“The BJP has struggled the most on the issue. They have consistently raised it. We are merely taking their resolve forward by inviting public opinion on this draft,” Kejriwal told a press conference here, when asked about the AAP’s action plan if the draft is rejected by the Centre.
Kejriwal said that he will write letters and also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to garner support for the draft bill, which keeps the high-profile NDMC area, out of its jurisdiction.
Kejriwal said after June 30, the final version of the draft would be prepared and a resolution would be passed by the Delhi Assembly to this effect. “We will forward the resolution to the Centre which in turn will have to bring Constitutional Amendment,” he said.
“The draft has been put on the Delhi government’s website. Through its passage, we seek to fulfill the dreams of Congress and BJP. We should rise above party lines. A special session of the Assembly may also be called for passing the resolution,” the CM said, flanked by his deputy Manish Sisodia.
To buttress his point, Kejriwal quoted from BJP manifestos from 1993 till 2014 and statements made by its leaders including Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju.
“L K Advani had tabled the Delhi Statehood Bill in Parliament in 2003. It was referred to a Standing Committee chaired by Pranab Mukherjee which had backed the suggestions. But for some reason it got lapsed. Even Congress has spoken out for statehood in the past.
“Kiren Rijiju spoke in favour of statehood in 2006. VK Malhotra raised the issue in 2011. In its 2013 national executives, BJP reiterated its resolve in this regard. On May 25, 2014 Harsh Vardhan had said that the first issue he would raise with the new Prime Minister would be statehood,” Kejriwal said.
The AAP chief invited public suggestions through ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and ‘fullstatehood. email@example.com’, which he said will remain activated till June 30.
“The draft primarily says that NDMC area will be with the Centre and the rest should come under the elected government in Delhi. It has been prepared after taking into consideration the older ones,” he said.
Granting full statehood to the national capital is one of the major electoral promises of AAP, in the absence of which it has frequently clashed with the BJP-led Centre over matters of jurisdiction since assuming office.
In its manifesto, AAP had declared that it will push for full statehood acting within the constitutional framework and using its moral and political authority Last year, AAP had planned to hold a referendum on the issue, which was later shelved after experts said anything of that sort would be “unconstitutional”.