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State of confusion: has AAP shelved its Delhi statehood project?

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 9:03 IST

Remember when the Aam Aadmi Party would swear by its "mission" to get Delhi full statehood?

Well, the issue has now disappeared from the party's agenda, or so it seems.

The AAP had declared on 7 July that it was "firm on its stand to gain full statehood for Delhi and it will not shy away from seeking the opinion of the people by way of referendum".

Also read - 10 reasons why Delhi must get statehood

"The referendum would be a reaffirmation of the people's demand, which has been long pending," the party's Delhi Convener Dilip Pandey had explained.

The party, he had emphasised, would "leave no stone unturned" to make full statehood a reality.

Nearly four months on, there is no sign of progress.

Secret plan?

Interestingly, The Asian Age and The Pioneer reported on 14 November that the AAP is set to push for a referendum on statehood in the winter session of the assembly that begins 18 November. Both newspapers claimed to have "exclusive access" to a document stating that the proposal had been sent to "the competent authority" for consideration.

But when Catch asked representatives of the AAP and the Delhi government about these reports, they denied any such plan was in the offing.

Pandey said the party was focusing on strengthening its organisation ahead of the 2017 municipal polls and the statehood referendum was not on its agenda at the moment.

AAP's report card of last 4 months: session on women's safety, women's rights charter, car-free day

The Delhi government's spokesperson Arunoday Prakash confirmed this.

A source in the AAP, in fact, suggested the news reports were "mischievous", pointing to their near identical content despite claims of being "exclusive".

Is the media indeed "making mischief" or is the AAP keeping its referendum plans secret? We'll know next week when the government releases its agenda for the winter session.

Still, it's baffling why the AAP government has made no visible progress on on one its key election promises?

Also read - Statehood: why Delhi's split-personality disorder needs a cure

Shifting priorities?

One reason could be that both the party and its government had to grapple with a host of challenges over the past four months.

These included the controversy over Jitender Singh Tomar's fake degrees, domestic abuse case against Somnath Bharti, bribery charges against Asim Khan, soaring onions prices in the capital, municipal workers strike, fire in the Mangolpuri slum, among others.

Then there is the running power tussle with Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

However, amid all this firefighting, the party managed to work on the issues it considered important.

Reports say AAP will push for referendum in winter session. Is the party keeping is plans secret?

An special assembly session on women's safety was held, a progressive charter of women's rights was drafted by the Delhi Dialogue Commission, autorickshaw drivers were ordered to put up "on duty" and "off duty" signs on their autos, a car-free day was organised, a flyover was built cheaply and opened ahead of schedule, a grand Yamuna Aarti was arranged to indicate the state's commitment to cleaning the river.

If all this could be managed despite the challenges, why wasn't any visible work done on the referendum?

Could it be that full statehood is no longer a priority for the AAP?

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First published: 16 November 2015, 7:35 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.