Arvind Kejriwal’s surprising promise: AAP chief says his party will campaign for BJP if Delhi is granted full statehood

Surprising all present in the Assembly on Monday, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal announced that his Aam Aadmi Party would campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 2019 General Election if the Centre granted Delhi full statehood.

“We will make sure that each and every vote from Delhi goes in your favour,” Kejriwal said in the House. “We will campaign for you. If you don't grant Delhi statehood, residents of Delhi will put up boards saying ‘BJP leave Delhi’.”

The chief minister made the statement on Monday right before the Delhi Vidhan Sabha unanimously accepted a resolution on full statehood for Delhi. The resolution calls on the Ministry of Home Affairs to introduce a Bill in Parliament to grant Delhi full statehood. As a union territory, Delhi only has partial statehood, and the AAP government does not have control over land, the Delhi Police and law and order, which remain under the control of the Centre. The AAP’s argument has been that an elected government cannot be without any power.

 Arvind Kejriwal’s surprising promise: AAP chief says his party will campaign for BJP if Delhi is granted full statehood

File image of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

The AAP has been fighting for years to have Delhi granted the status of a state, alleging that the lieutenant governor, who represents the Central government in Delhi, hinders the functioning of the region and works on the behest of the Centre to block the AAP’s initiatives. Since coming to power in the city, the AAP has been at loggerheads with the lieutenant governor. Just on Monday, Kejriwal and other ministers began a protest at Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal’s office — a protest that continued on Tuesday — demanding an end to a strike of IAS officers in Delhi.

During his speech appealing to the BJP on Monday, Kejriwal also reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his promise before the 2014 elections to grant Delhi statehood. "We will have to fight for the development of Delhi, our children’s future,” the chief minister said. “I want to tell Modiji that he had promised full statehood status to Delhi-ites before the last Lok Sabha elections. I want to ask him whether it was a ‘jumla’ (election rhetoric).”

Kejriwal’s appeal to the BJP also comes at a time when there has been speculation of an alliance between the Congress and AAP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Delhi chief minister’s offer to the BJP surprised many also because Kejriwal has never held back in his criticism of the saffron party and its policies.

On Sunday, the AAP chief had announced a campaign to press for full statehood for Delhi, as part of the party’s campaign for the 2019 elections. “L-G, Delhi Chhodo (L-G, Quit Delhi)” is the slogan party workers will raise across the city till their demand is met.

Updated Date: Jun 12, 2018 16:24:17 IST