The BJP has dropped its plan of releasing a manifesto for Delhi, its hand forced by indecision over the issue of statehood.
Party leaders admitted that being in power at the Centre means there will be “practical difficulties” in making statehood for Delhi a reality, and that this has stopped them from coming out with a manifesto. What it will issue instead is a vision document, which will detail the party’s “development plans”for Delhi.
“We have to be pragmatic. How can we give full statehood to Delhi? There will be issues of multiplicity of power, land ownership and law and order,” said a senior party leader.
The BJP had been scheduled to release its manifesto Thursday. But Union minister Ananth Kumar told reporters: “There will be no manifesto. We will bring out a vision document to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kiran Bedi’s vision.”
The party leadership is divided over statehood. While state leaders including Harsh Vardhan, who headed the manifesto committee, were keen on including the promise of full statehood in the manifesto, chief ministerial candidate Bedi and some senior ministers were against disturbing the status quo.
“It would have been a complicated matter. We, being in power at the Centre, cannot make a promise that is not possible. And voters in Delhi are different from those in other states,” said a leader.
“Most importantly, how will the central government hand over law and order to a state government?” the leader added. “Delhi houses embassies, diplomatic offices, AIIMS and the homes of VIPs. There will be issues of land ownership, and division of power between bodies such as DDA and MCD. Being in charge at the Centre, we would have had to weigh in all these factors.”
While the Delhi police, who deal with law and order in Delhi, work under the Ministry of Home, the Delhi Development Authority that deals with land reports to the Ministry of Urban Development.
In its earlier manifestos, including the one it released ahead of 2013 elections, the BJP had promised statehood to Delhi. The AAP had then played on the issue, challenging PM Modi to announce full statehood in his January 10 address.
Bedi has tweeted “Kiran’s Blueprint” for Delhi. Part of this blueprint will be included in the vision document, BJP leaders say. “It will have the PM’s vision for the state too,” a leader said.