As a young BJP MP, Kiren Rijiju had once favoured full statehood for Delhi. Today, as minister of state for home, he is looking at the idea from the other side.
As a young BJP MP, Kiren Rijiju had once favoured full statehood for Delhi. On November 21, 2006, he along with party senior Santosh Gangwar had expressed “deep concern over not according the status of a full-fledged State to Delhi despite repeated requests”. Today, as minister of state for home, he is looking at the idea from the other side. He explains his change of stance in the following interview.
The AAP government is moving a bill to demand full statehood for Delhi. What is the centre’s position on this?
It is a political matter which the government cannot take a stand on. Has the BJP taken any stand? I can tell you that at the moment there is no proposal with the government to give more powers to Delhi state. I can also tell you that this is not being discussed at any stage – be it in government or within the BJP. It is a non-issue for us.
But chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced to hold a referendum on this matter. Doesn’t the centre have to take note of it at some stage?
It is not necessary for us to respond to Kejriwal’s drama. He tweets something every day and has to open his mouth at the sight of a video camera. We cannot be responding to him all the time. We are busy running government.
Referendum on Delhi’s statehood – isn’t it a novel idea on which the centre needs to define its position?
We have to go by the statute book. It is because of the provisions of this book that we are here today, and I can’t deviate from this. Referendum is not part of it. Where does the constitution say the definition and role of the states is to be defined by referendum?
The chief minister should talk sense. He is acting like an anarchist.
In the past when the BJP was in the opposition, you yourself had asked the government to grant the Delhi government control over police. Aren’t you backtracking now?
Actually Delhi state has already been conferred with more powers like the municipalities and other provisions. The issue had been settled.
(The interview appears in July 1-15, 2016 edition of Governance Now)