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EditorialAnother votary of referendum!

Another votary of referendum!


He often springs surprises! This time he threw another controversial idea. Trust Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to be opportunistic. He has suggested a referendum, on the lines of what United Kingdom did in the matter of remaining in or exiting out of the European Union, to decide on the issue of full Statehood for Delhi. By floating such idea before the people in a country like which if full of diversity, many raising regional aspiration and separatism may get their voices strengthen further against the unity of the country.  Though voters of Delhi clearly indicated their preference for Aam Admi Party to run the affairs of Delhi but since Day one things have not been smooth. Everyone is well aware of how Kejriwal always lays the blame at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's doorstep for almost anything that goes wrong in Delhi.

To add fuel to the fire, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the former Commissioner of Delhi Police, B S Bassi, were also constantly accused of partisan behaviour and actions by AAP functionaries as well as Kejriwal. There is, however, no doubt that full Statehood for Delhi is essential and the existing duality needs to be done away with. Having declared Delhi as a State, but not having given it all the required powers does create a piquant situation when we have separate parties governing at the Centre and in Delhi. But far too much energy and time is wasted on the squabbling between the AAP government and Jung and with the Centre. The proposed referendum may just be the right answer provided all parties agree to it. Chances are that the Congress and BJP would not like to go for it in the near future. Politically, they need to discredit AAP government and Kejriwal in particular before they would want to take the risk of going for a referendum.

However, even before the issue is taken any further, the initial reaction from experts is that the Indian Constitution does not have a provision for carrying out a referendum. Brushing it aside as a political gimmick, the experts are of the opinion that it is pointless even thinking about it. Historically, however, the Indian subcontinent has actually seen six referendums, with one foolishly declared referendum by Jawahar Lal Nehru in being the cause of great friction between India and Pakistan. People of India have been paying huge price in terms of men and money for such stupidity by the first prime minister of the country. On many occasions in the past, Kejriwal and his men have openly supported referendum in Kashmir which clearly reflects his separatist mindset and his support to anti-India element in Kashmir.

Referendums have also been held in Sikkim and Pondicherry to decide if they wanted to be a part of India. In 1967, Goa voted to not be included in Maharashtra, establishing their Konkani identity as distinct from Marathi. And if Arvind Kejriwal has his way, there might be another on its way: a referendum to decide if Delhi wants full Statehood.

Whether or not Kejriwal has his way, the fact remains that the current situation in Delhi needs to be resolved. People of Delhi, who had initially rejected AAP and then went on to give the party a massive mandate, may or may not prefer a party that is governing at the Centre to avoid the constant bickering between two rival parties. In such a scenario, the issues that are a bone of contention between the Centre and AAP government in Delhi need to be sorted out mutually or else Delhi will continue to suffer. Referendum for Delhi!

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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