Do we want to remain as the National Capital or instead want a Statehood?

Contrary to what is being asked, the question posed to the people of Delhi should be ‘Do you want to remain as the National Capital or instead want a Statehood?’

This vexed question on Statehood and the extent of powers to be passed on to Delhi Government has been debated at the highest level all through last century. In 1912 while shifting the Capital from Kolkatta to Delhi, this was discussed as “It is generally recognized”, observed the Government of India in their Dispatch to the Secretary of State dated 25th August, 1911, “that the capital of a great central Government should be separate and independent” (thereby making it away from the control of any Provincial Government and directly under the National Government) “and effect has been given to this principle in the United States, Canada, and Australia”.

It was not only the British, Indian Constitution drafting committee under Dr Ambedkar had also put Delhi under Part C States without subjects of law and order, local self-governing institutions, the Improvement Trust (Previous avatar of DDA) and other statutory boards regulating certain public utility services in Delhi and New Delhi.

It was further discussed in 1955 by the State Reorganization Committee. SRC, 1955 went a step ahead, abolished the post of Chief Minister and Legislative Assembly and further reduced the administrative status of Delhi to Mayor-in-Council with a Municipal Corporation. Citing international practices it said ‘if it is to continue as the Union capital, cannot be made part of a full-fledged constituent unit of the Indian Union…In France, for example, there is a greater degree of central control over Paris than over other municipalities. In England, the police administration of the metropolitan area is directly under the control of the Home Secretary, who does not exercise similar powers in respect of other municipal areas…They are seats of national governments, with considerable property belonging to these governments. Foreign diplomatic missions and international agencies are located in these capitals…So far as federal capitals are concerned, there is also an additional consideration. Any constitutional division of powers, if it is applicable to units functioning in the seats of national governments, is bound to give rise to embarrassing situations. Practice in other countries, administrative necessity and the desirability of avoiding conflicting jurisdictions, all point to the need for effective control by national governments over federal capitals.’

Obviously, following protests of political leaders aspiring for more powers, the Union Government in 1966, through The Delhi Administration Act, gave Delhi a Metropolitan Council, Chief Executive Councilor, Executive Councilors and Metropolitan Councilors instead of a Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister and MLAs. This was without any legislative powers and was confined to the role of a debating house. Sh. L.K.Advani was Chairman (Speaker) of the first elected Metropolitan Council.

Justice Sarkaria Commission (Later known as Balakrishna Committee) gave its report in 1989, paving way for the present form of Legislative Assembly also endorsed earlier views and recommended police, public order and land not to be passed on to Delhi Government. International practices in National Capitals and problems of dual power center at the seat of Union Government were important reasons for this.

Ask anyone in the Country, Delhi is the best amongst the Mega Cities in India in terms of infrastructure, greenery, road availability etc. This we have been able to achieve under present dispensation only. As a State, we would not be financially viable. Dy. Chief Minister of Delhi, while presenting Delhi’s vote-on-account said that if Delhi becomes a full State, it would get Rs 5000 per year (Rs25000 crores in five years) as a part of our share of taxes from the Union Government. But he chose not to disclose that on Delhi Police alone the Union Government has budgeted Rs 5200 this year. Besides, as a privilege of being National Capital and a Union Territory, we have five super specialty hospitals fully funded by the Union Government. This year budget for these hospitals is around Rs 3200 crores. On Metro Rail, the Union Government till 2011 spent one billion dollars besides standing as a guarantor to pay the full amount of low interest Japanese loan. Delhi boasts of three UGC funded Central Universities. Getting these perks as a National Capital and Union Territory should be also told to the people of Delhi for an informed decision making process.

As it can be seen, National Capital and full Statehood cannot go hand in hand together. We have to choose one over the other. I would prefer to live in a National Capital.


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