Lessons from Greece
Referendums seem to have caught the imagination of the Greeks and now recently that of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Kejriwal government wants Delhiites to decide if the Capital should be granted the status of a state, a contentious move that could further strain its bitter ties with the Centre.Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the urban development department to come up with a feasibility report specifying a timeline.For the uninitiated the National Capital Territory of Delhi is divided into three sub territories MCD, NDMC and NCT all of which are governed by separate bodies, some of who are elected, others appointed by the central government.The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which was established in 1957, is controlled by the ministry of urban development, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor who heads NCT but does not report to the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister who is elected by the people of Delhi, though independently appointed by the people, works with a council of ministers appointed by the Central Government and works under the Central Government. So essentially, the Chief Minister does not have the powers to govern and make laws on three key areas relating to public order, police and land. With a hostile government at the Centre, the Kejriwal government has found it increasingly hard to function and govern smoothly.Delhi as a National Capital Region has been given special status among Union Territories. This is no longer sufficient. Article 239AA and <g data-gr-id="49">239AB,</g> declares the powers and limitations to the legislature of the NCT by keeping Public Order, Police and Land out of its purview. This has been a bone of contention between successive governments in Delhi and the Union Government, for granting proper statehood to Delhi. Various parties argue that such a demand for statehood is logical and has significant merits.
As the CM and legislature are elected by the people, so they are responsible for the governance of Delhi. Hence, they must be given sufficient power to deliver the same. After increasing incidents of apathy shown by the Delhi Police, a police force which has proven anything but pliable, the demand for control over Delhi Police has become stronger, with the logic of democratic control superseding everything else. Moreover, as land doesn’t come into Delhi Government’s purview, it has to depend on the Central government for approval of acquisition for infrastructural development.Such an approval, needless to say, has not been very forthcoming from the Centre. Political commentators also point out the number of times the art. 239AA and the clause 45 of NCT Act was blatantly misused by the Lt. Gov. to decide on discretion without consulting the democratically elected government. This undermines the democratic ethos of Delhi. One also must remember the constant interference that Najeeb Jung has subjected the Delhi Government to. It was a tidal wave of popular support which swept Arvind Kejriwal into power. However, a few months later it is a subtle undercurrent of meddling, which is threatening to ruin his government’s plans to transform Delhi; a city-state, which has become exceedingly difficult to govern unless it is granted full statehood.
In a democratic set up there can not be two reporting authorities as it would lead to the type of confusion and conflict that the administrative machinery of Delhi has witnessed during the past few months. If the Lieutenant Governor serves at the discretion of the President then it is imperative that he report to the President and not become an extra-constitutional authority. It is a fact that Delhi gets more taxpayer resources than any other city in India. as a full state of the Indian Union, Delhi will no longer be eligible to live off the central government’s current subsidies. The rest of India can pay to run a central government, but not another state government, including its police. Whatever the steep challenges maybe, Delhi could consider holding a referendum, absorbing lessons from Greece.