The Aam Aadmi Party Thursday released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, reiterating full statehood for Delhi as a major promise. The Delhi government will be powerless without statehood in terms of police reforms and anti-corruption norms, the AAP manifesto said. The Supreme Court had in October 2018 dismissed a plea seeking full statehood for Delhi.
ThePrint asks: AAP manifesto’s statehood-linked promises: Exercise in deception or honest politics?
Many promises can be fulfilled only if Delhi has full statehood & AAP has been very honest about this
National spokesperson and South Delhi candidate, Aam Aadmi Party
Only the people who do not understand the law and how the Constitution works will make accusations of this kind. Giving Delhi full statehood does not lie in the hands of the Supreme Court. A constitutional amendment will be required to give Delhi the status of a state. The Supreme Court can only implement existing laws, not make new ones.
The Aam Aadmi Party has always been very honest about its promises to the people of Delhi, and full statehood continues to be our major demand.
If we are promising improvement of the law and order situation of the national capital, and if we want to ensure impeccable safety for the women of Delhi, then these are promises that can only be fulfilled once Delhi is given full statehood – given how these issues don’t fall under our jurisdiction at the moment.
That is a no-brainer.
The AAP’s manifesto stayed true to the definition of a manifesto – an announcement of major promises that the party will fulfil if it comes to power. A manifesto isn’t supposed to be about the achievements or work done by the party – that’s called a report card, and there is a difference between the two.
Full statehood promise is a fraud because even the AAP knows it isn’t going to happen
Manjinder Singh Sirsa
MLA, BJP Delhi
The Aam Aadmi Party has grown used to deceiving the people of Delhi time and again. With every election, they try and fool the public by committing one fraud or another. This time, they have made all their promises contingent on Delhi getting full statehood. They know this isn’t going to happen, so this serves as a convenient excuse.
It isn’t as if they have done much in areas that they did have direct control over in the past five years. They have three MPs in Rajya Sabha, and they had won four Lok Sabha seats from Punjab in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But to what avail?
Even in Delhi, there were several domains that fell directly under them. Education was one such domain, but they haven’t even built one new university in the past five years. They had enough land to build at least 300 new schools, but they haven’t done anything on that front.
Full statehood is nothing but another excuse by the AAP. Their manifesto is nothing but an admission that without full statehood, they won’t do anything. This means that they have already accepted defeat in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and might as well surrender.
AAP is misleading people and trying to escape failures by promising full statehood to Delhi
The dominant narrative even during the time of Constituent Assembly debates was that the Indian government must have some territory under its control; it cannot possibly be an occupant or a tenant of a state government. This was the position taken by Jawaharlal Nehru, BR Ambedkar and other members of the drafting committee. That same notion prevails today. Governments have managed Delhi under the same arrangement.
The AAP government’s promise is suspect because it did not send any proposal to the Modi govt demanding full statehood for Delhi. In the past, the Sheila Dikshit government’s request to have the Delhi Police brought under its aegis could not be accommodated owing to logistical complications.
The AAP has not done any homework on the powers and obligations of the Delhi government in case full statehood is granted to Delhi. It should bring a white paper explaining the benefits.
The AAP is delusional and is trying to mislead people of Delhi. Full statehood requires an amendment in Constitution, and therefore the AAP’s manifesto promise rings hollow. This last-minute theatric is as hollow as their promise of Jan Lokpal. This is the politics of shifting goal posts and making excuses. The AAP needs to realise it can’t fool all the people all the time. With this promise, it is selling snake oil.
It’s honest politics that AAP linked its promises to a condition that Delhi would become a state
Like any other party, the AAP has made various promises in its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto. The difference between the promises made by the AAP and other political parties is that most of the promises made by the AAP are linked to the pre-condition of Delhi becoming a state. I see no reason why this should be seen as an act of deception. To me, this is closer to an act of honest politics at least in terms of making promises.
The AAP has made it absolutely clear that they wish to bring about the promised changes but it can be possible only if Delhi becomes a full state.
Anyway, the voters do not take the promises made by parties in their manifestos very seriously. In the AAP’s case, where the promises are tied to the pre-condition of full statehood for Delhi, voters may be even less inclined to consider them. But that should not affect the electoral prospects of the AAP in Delhi. There is no way to find out if Delhi voters believe that the promises made by the AAP would be fulfilled or not.
Full statehood issue will have very little traction and might disappoint the AAP and its leadership
Founder of satyahindi.com and former AAP member
The inclusion of full statehood promise in the AAP’s election manifesto is on expected lines. But will it help the party’s national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal win people’s confidence and bring him electoral dividends? We will find out.
In my understanding, the issue of statehood will have very little traction. This might disappoint the party and its leadership. Three things have to be kept in mind.
First, Delhi does not have its own socio-psychological identity like cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The reason being the language. Delhi does not have that linguistic affinity and also the unifying cultural connect. It’s a city that welcomes every one. So, to imagine that full statehood will evoke any emotional chord with people, I am not sure.
Second, to claim that if the AAP wins all seven parliamentary seats, then Delhi will get the status of statehood looks like a bad rhetoric not based on facts. The AAP is too small a party to force the central government to bless Delhi with statehood. It neither has the electoral muscle power nor the constitutional backing.
Third, there is a consensus among the political class that Delhi being the national capital can’t be given the status of full statehood, and I don’t see that consensus breaking.
To me, it looks like that the AAP is aware of the ground realities but is driven by the idea to push such realities under the carpet. Voters, however, are more smart than political leaders think.
Also read: AAP must stop misleading Delhi’s voters
AAP’s statehood pitch sounds good to its own ears, but question is if voters will connect with it
From the sleepover outside LG Anil Baijal office to holding a fast for Delhi statehood, the AAP led by its national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has continued to wage what the AAP sees as the inevitable battle to gain full control of Delhi.
At the turn of the Lok Sabha elections, they have cast their last die.
There are many things that the poll plank of statehood, a pitch probably born in the echo chamber of its own supporters, says about the AAP.
First, the AAP is trying to tell the voters that without it, the Delhi government can’t function with utmost efficacy. Delhi being ‘half a state’, limits the government, but is that really the case? Congress’ Delhi chief Sheila Dikshit governed the national capital for three terms, both with the NDA and the UPA at the Centre.
Second, the AAP hopes to swing the sympathy vote towards it. ‘We tried, and failed, because the Centre didn’t let us succeed.’ Will voters in Delhi relate to this premise and promote Kejriwal’s lieutenants to Parliament? Even if the AAP wins all seven seats, will its MPs have enough leveraging power to fulfil the promise of statehood? Seems unlikely.
Third, the AAP wants the voters to cast their ballot for making Delhi a state, and not elect a prime minister. But trends show that Delhi has always voted in the Lok Sabha for the government that will emerge at the Centre.
The AAP changed the face of electoral politics in 2013, and has since achieved many unprecedented feats, like becoming the opposition party in Punjab. But by putting all its eggs in statehood basket, it may have just made a move that probably won’t resound with the electorate of Delhi.
By Fatima Khan, journalist at ThePrint.
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