New Delhi: In a move which is likely to further escalate tension between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government here, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has now called for a Greece-style referendum on the issue of granting full statehood to Delhi.
News paper reports, Monday, said that the AAP chief has reportedly written a letter to Delhi's Urban Development Department to explore if a Greece-style referendum can be held in the capital on the issue of full statehood.
The Chief Minister, in a note sent to the Urban Development Department last month, had sought a feasibility report on how residents can be asked to decide whether Delhi should be accorded full statehood.
CM Kejriwal has also reportedly asked the Urban and legal departments to speed up work on a Delhi statehood bill that will be sent to the Centre for its consent.
Kejriwal, as per reports, had also discussed the issue with his ministers.
"Referendum for statehood is necessary," AAP leader Ashish Khaitan was quoted as saying by the national media.
“The government is keen on having the Election Commission conduct the referendum as it will carry more weight. The Law department has also been asked to discuss the legal issues,” a senior official was quoted as saying by a news paper. “In case that option is not available, the government is ready to conduct it on its own,” he added.
Delhi has a unique status in the Indian Union. It is a union territory with a legislative assembly that limits the power of the Delhi government.
Law and order, including police, land and civic bodies are controlled by the Union government, which has led to a raging turf war with the Kejriwal government.
Over the last few months, Kejriwal and Delhi Lt. Governor Nazeeb Jung have frequently clashed over key appointments and often thrown the rule book at each other.
Full statehood for Delhi was one of the key poll promises of the AAP for the February Assembly elections, which it resoundingly won.
The BJP was reduced to just three seats in a 70-member house and Kejriwal alleges that it is exacting political revenge by using its powers at the Centre to interfere with governance in Delhi.
Interestingly, the BJP too has favoured full statehood for Delhi in the past, but dropped the demand from its manifesto for this year's election, prompting AAP to allege that it had done so because it feared a Kejriwal victory.
Soon after his victory, Kejriwal had sought appointments with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, reportedly to discuss full statehood.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Ajay Maken today said his party does not support a referendum and attacked Kejriwal.
"The entire idea is against the constitution...Statehood idea is a very dangerous idea Kejriwal ji has given...this idea is not only anti-constitutional but also anti-national," Maken said.
The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 years till the 2013 elections threw up a hung house, won no seat in the elections held this year. Delhi this year.