The debate about Delhi's status as Union territory and whether it should be granted the status of statehood is back in public territory after former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday said that Delhi being a Union territory is governed partly by Centre and that the government in Delhi has to work in cooperation with the Centre. Dixit also claimed that in her tenure of 15 years as Chief Minister of Delhi, she never ran into any conflict with either Centre or the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi.
In a veiled attack on the Arvind Kejriwal led government in Delhi, referring to the public spat Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been a part of since taking office in Delhi, she added to her statement saying,"This(conflict between the CM and LG) can't be excuse to not work. Public wants governance not complainants(sic)," as quoted by news agency ANI.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in reply, tweeted accusing Sheila Dikshit's government of gross inefficiencies and said that during her tenure she had her party government in Centre. He challenged the former CM to run the government for even one year under Prime Minister Narendra Modi led centre.
Controversies and political bickering apart, it is worthwhile to look at why Delhi is a Union territory and why does the question of it achieving (full) statehood keeps coming up in demand especially in the last few years:
In India, a federal state with powers vested in both the Centre and the states, another divison exists for the purpose of administraion known as Union territories which are controlled directly by the Centre. But, Delhi is a Union territory with an assembly (Vidhan Sabha). And that is the reason it is known as 'half state'. Though the term cannot be used technically, what it implies is a cross between a state and a Union territory. Puducherry is another such Union territory or 'half state' with an assembly of its own.
The central point of conflict between the Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government and the Narendra Modi headed Centre is the constant complaining by Delhi Chief Minister of having limited powers and resources at his disposal for the able administration of Delhi. So what makes Delhi a 'half state' and what stops it from making a 'full state' or a state with complete powers?
Article 246 elaborates the distribution of power with the Union (Central) government, state governments and powers shared between both the Centre and state- called as Concurrent list.
But, Articles 239AA and 239AB of the 69th Amendment Act which was passed in the year 1991 made provision for a Legislative Assembly and Council of Ministers for the Union territory of Delhi but land, public order and police was still kept out of its reach and retained with Central government.
Also, important revenue avenues such as licensing, raising money from the market and obtaining foreign loan is out of its powers which the state government claims stops it from fulfilling its election promises.
So what's the solution or what would the Delhi government be happy with?
Giving Delhi government the right over land, public and order and most importantly the police is what the government desires for. However, for that to happen, a constitutional amendment is mandatory. Until that happens, the controversy is bound to continue.