The tussle between BJP that holds office at the Centre and its self-proclaimed challenger the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has resulted in denial of self-rule for the two crore people of Delhi, a population larger than many countries of the world and bigger than several states in India.
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The Centre’s move to designate the lieutenant governor (LG) as the government in Delhi, via legislation that also requires the elected so-called government of Delhi to get the LG’s clearance for any executive decision, is a matter of regret, as it curtails the democratic rights of the people of Delhi to be governed by a body that they can periodically hold to account, just as people in other regions hold their elected governments to account.
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A sustainable solution is to delineate afresh the area that the central government requires absolute, direct control over, to secure unhindered operations, retain that in a municipal body functioning under the central government, and to transfer the rest to a full state of Delhi, where an elected state government would have all the powers and responsibilities that any other state government has. Such an area needs to be a great deal bigger than what is governed, at present, by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, where the principal seats of power, such as Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Supreme Court, North Block, South Block and assorted ministries are located.
Washington DC has a population of seven lakh and an area of 177 sq. km. Delhi has an area of 1,480 sq. km. Clearly, there is scope to carve out a capital territory to be directly under central control, while leaving the bulk of Delhi to form a state of its own. The sooner this is done, the better for all concerned, in particular, the people of Delhi.