Ever since the national capital was rechristened as National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) after its new Assembly in 1993, the vexed issue of “statehood” has been surfacing from time to time. Various political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, have, depending on time and convenience, demanded a “full statehood” for the NCTD.
The fact is that Delhi State Assembly is a farce and nothing but a rehabilitation centre for politicians and bureaucrats. If one looks at the business rules of the NCT Delhi Act, it becomes clear that it is disabled from the beginning – and to paraphrase it in Hindi, “ Yeh ek machhar be nahi maar saktaa” (it cannot even swat a mosquito). Pun apart, the mosquito is the subject of Municipal Corporation (MCD) which is an elected body. The MCD, which was one body earlier, is now four elected bodies. These elected bodies don’t pay heed to the elected government of NCT Delhi. NDMC is another body administrated by the Centre.
The so-called “state subjects”, vital of them “land and law and order” (meaning the police control), are not with the so-called Delhi state. The land is under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which comes under the Union Urban Development Ministry. Police are under the Union Home Ministry. Then what does this Delhi Assembly exist for? The only possible answer is Section 19 which provides for salaries and perks for the MLAs and which could be determined by the Assembly – which it does with great alacrity from time to time.
While most Capitals in the world are administrated as a federal territory, Beijing, Washington DC, Canberra, Ottawa—to name a few, Delhi, which was once a Union Territory, was declared as a “state” without the meaning under Article 12 of the Constitution. Of course, as a state instrumentality, it comes within the meaning of “state” under Article 12 and that’s a separate legal issue. But as far the “state” issue is concerned, it is now neither a “state” proper, nor a federal or Union Territory.
New Delhi, within Delhi, was supposed to be an administrative unit separate or distinct from its surrounding states. Now, there is only a multiplicity of authorities. As a cub reporter with The Patriot, daily newspaper published from New Delhi, I remember the legendary Aruna Asaf Ali telling us in an editorial meeting, how one should fight against this “multiplicity of authorities”. No single window system is yet developed. The multiplicity of authorities has only been further multiplied.
The best solution would be an abolition the Delhi Assembly and save crores of public exchequer and make NCT Delhi a small administrative unit as is the situation in many countries in the world. The ilk of Kejriwals, or for that matter anybody, would vanish – at least reducing the “VVIP pollution” in the Indian Capital.