Congress against full statehood if Delhi loses national capital status: Ajay Maken (Interview)
New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) The Congress has said it is opposed to full statehood to Delhi if it were to lose the status of national capital and that its pros and cons need to be explained to the people of the national capital.
“The pros and cons of full statehood should be explained to the people of Delhi; that is what I strongly feel. If full statehood means losing the national capital status, then the Congress is opposed to it,” former Union minister and Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told IANS in an interview.
Full statehood to Delhi was mentioned in the poll manifestos of both the AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. The BJP has since made a U-turn on the demand.
Delhi Chief Minister Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been at loggerheads with the Centre to demand full statehood, to gain control over Delhi Police, land and public order.
Explaining the reason for opposing the idea of full statehood to Delhi, Maken said: “Delhi Police comes under the central government. So the central government spends around Rs 6,300 crore per year on it and not Delhi’s taxpayers.”
The former Union Minister of State said Delhi, being the national capital and not being an Indian state, means it has three central universities — Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University — on which the money is spent by the Centre.
The Centre takes care of all expenditure on the three varsities, which will not be the case in case Delhi were to gain full statehood.
The Congress leader pointed out that the Delhi government at present spends no money on university education.
Elaborating further, the Congress leader said: “First, since Delhi is a national capital, for projects like the Metro, the Delhi government needs to spend just 14 per cent of the total project cost. No other state gets to spend this much money on such a project.”
“If Delhi gets full statehood, why would the Centre spend that much amount?” Maken asked.
“The money obviously has then to come from the pockets of the people of Delhi,” he added.
Highlighting the number of multi-specialty hospitals in Delhi, the Congress leader said: “The maximum number of multi-specialty hospitals are in Delhi — it has got All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital which all are run by the central government.”
“Does any other state have so many such hospitals? Every state wants one AIIMS?” he pointed out.
“So, thousands of crores are spent by the central government on Delhi,” Maken said.
“Hence, before discussing full statehood, all these things need to be told to the people of Delhi.”
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)