Monday November 19, 2018
Home Politics Perspective f...

Perspective from Chicago: Delhi Statehood Issue (Vs Washington DC)

0
//
Delhi Elections
Republish
Reprint

by Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada

Delhi Elections

 

(The decades-long issue of full statehood comes back to haunt Delhi as the assembly elections draw near. Although much remains to be seen on how the contesting parties address this effectively, the author takes a forthright view with some interesting analogy to ponder upon. – Editor)
Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis

Having lived through rules of Kings for centuries and then Britishers, it seems that feudalism has set in our genes. The tendency to power grabbing and not let it go also recurs time and again. The spirit of democracy and federalism suffers in the process. The issue of statehood for Delhi is a case in point. Elections for Delhi assembly are around the corner and this issue has come into sharp focus again.

Delhi – the national capital territory (NCT) of India – has a contorted situation. It is a Union Territory (by definition, a piece of land directly ruled by the Union or Central government), but also has an elected legislative assembly. Thus, It has an elected Chief Minister who runs the administration, while the lieutenant governor (LG) -appointed by President- acts as the head of the state. But, paradoxically, 3 powers lie with Central government: security (police), babudom (bureaucracy) and control of land. As a result, Delhi police reports to Union Home Minister and not Delhi’s Chief Minister. The anomaly was amply highlighted when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – feeling hamstrung over control of law and order- decided to sit on a dharna against his own police!

Aam Aadmi Party- a major player in upcoming assembly elections- has from its inception advocated complete statehood for Delhi. Securing a complete statehood to Delhi has also been on the agenda of BJP since decades and Modi government after being sworn in last year had been actively mulling on this idea as a pre-poll gift to Delhi voters. However, it seems Prime Minister Narendar Modi was advised to control the impulse, fearing that in case Arvind kejriwal becomes the Chief Minister of Delhi, the privileged control over Delhi will slip away from him. Kiran Bedi after being announced as the Chief Ministerial candidate (which obviously is very different than actually becoming a C.M.) by BJP immediately became non-committal on the issue of Delhi statehood, literally reversing local state unit’s stand. Who would like to displease the masters at the center!

No one was better positioned than Congress to resolve the issue of granting full statehood to Delhi. Sheila Dixit was Congress Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years along with Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Center for a good deal of 10 years. But in her case, neither the spirit was willing, nor was the flesh strong! When Arvind Kejriwal exposed her duplicity, Dixit said that she had written letters to Home Minister, implying that it was a mere lip service.

Puducherry is another example that carries the dual burden of being a Union Territory yet having a state assembly. Its Chief Minister too has expressed the pain of carrying this burdensome dual legacy!

What is the trend in other parts of world? After all, this question does arise when it comes to ‘city capitals’! Let us look at the situation of Washington DC- the capital of USA. Like Delhi, it also is not a state. Washington comes under federal jurisdiction, thereby directly controlled by Congress. Statehood will give D.C. the representation in Congress, which they lack currently (at least Delhi is represented in Parliament by seven Members of Parliament). When American constitution was written more than 200 years back, they created a district (capital) that the federal government could administer itself for its convenience. The apprehension was that if a state owns it- under the federal system (which is very robust in USA) – the state could create hindrances. It is bizarre that the most powerful Congress should decide on some of the local issues of Washington DC, which can be easily relegated to its local mayoral government. While residents of Washington DC too continue to aspire for a complete statehood, nevertheless, the police remain a state subject for them, meaning thereby, the local police are controlled by Mayor and municipality. However, the federal law enforcement agencies (example: United States Capitol Police) have jurisdiction in some parts of the Washington D.C.

The concept of federalism gained traction in India in 1990s when coalition era started erupting. Before that union governments had very centralist attitude and public at large never found it odd. Indira Gandhi is a prime example known for concentrating power and disregarding the federal spirit of our country. Imposition of emergency in 1970s is a valid proof of her tendencies. A hang over effect of centralist attitude is reflected in India by clamping president rule by dissolving elected governments in a whimsical manner. The system of appointing district collectors (DCs) by state governments reflects the tendency of centralizing powers and goes against the spirit of boosting local governments. Delhi also has been a victim of these vagaries. It was granted a statehood status in 1951 and Mr. Brahma Prakash was the first ever Chief Minister elected in 1952. However, in 1955, Delhi was converted into a Union Territory and thus legislative assembly was dissolved. It was not until 1993, when the legislative assembly was re-constituted and Madan Lal Khurana (BJP) became the elected Chief Minister of Delhi.

The journey for Delhi is, however, still incomplete!

In next few days, Delhi will see a new Chief Minister. It needs a full-fledged Chief Minister and not a ‘lame duck’ Chief Minister. By acquiring full statehood, Delhi will have a Chief Minister who can administer law and order with police under his control and can make decisions on appointment and transfers of bureaucracy. Separate law enforcement agencies can be created to provide services in places where Union government operates.

A true ‘Swaraj’ will only prevail in Delhi when power is vested in the elected representatives. Let us not asphyxiate the principle of federalism by procrastinating the issue of Delhi statehood. Taking a cue, will Kiran Bedi stand up and declare that Delhi actually deserves a full statehood on a priority basis!

A MK


The author is a Chicago-based political commentator. This op-ed is an exclusive article in his series Musings from Chicago. You can reach out to him at e-mail ID: pedia333@gmail.com and on Twitter @drMunishRaizada.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak: 10 facts you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist

“Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!" is the famous slogan of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist.

1
Bal Gangadhar tilak. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879
  • His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar)
  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history

Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is the famous slogan of  Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist. Tilak was born in a well-cultured family on 23rd July 1856. PM Modi, yesterday, paid tribute to Tilak on his 160th Birth Anniversary. Although such things are known by the majority, there exist some facts unknown and unseen.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Here are the 10 facts that you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak-

  • Tilak was an English and Maths teacher in a school co-founded by him in 1880. The success of the school led to the formation of the Deccan Educational Society and Fergusson College in 1884 and 1885 respectively.
Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in
Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in
  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879. Unfortunately, he was unable to become a postgraduate after failing two attempts.
Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in
Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in
  • Tilak along with Jamsetji TATA, encouraged the Co-Op stores Co. Limited to become a client of Swadeshi goods in 1900 and that store is now known as The Bombay Store.
Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
  • Tilak spent his most of time reading and writing in prison. His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar).
Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com
Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com
  • Tilak was not only the first leader to start a nationalist movement against Britishers but also one of the first leaders who came up with the concept of ‘Swaraj’ and made it a part of the independence movement.
Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube
Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube
  • Tilak was also against the Age of Consent Act 1891. He carried out many protests to oppose the bill almost at every level so that the government would regulate the bill.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

  • Tilak was the first to find the origin of the Vedas. In his book titled ‘The Arctic Home in the Vedas’ he stated that Vedas were first composed in the Arctic region. Tilak believed that Mount Meru, discussed in Mahabharata, was situated in North Pole.
"Arctic Home in Vedas" by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:
“Arctic Home in Vedas” by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:
  • Until 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated in the houses only. It was Tilak who urged people to encourage public unity and changed it into a public festival.
Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube
Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube
  • Tilak was known for his sacrifices and highest sense of renunciation. He sacrificed the wealth, comforts, family, happiness and health for his beloved ‘Mother India’.
Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter
Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter
  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

Also Read: