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Full statehood for Delhi gets top billing in AAP manifesto

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday released its Delhi manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, promising free schooling, jobs and housing for residents if it wins all seven seats in the national capital.

The party, which reiterated that its talks for an alliance with the Congress had failed, retained its demand for full statehood to Delhi as the central theme of its manifesto.

Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal said grant of full statehood would accelerate development of Delhi and enable the city administration to carry out reforms in Delhi Police and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) — agencies that are currently under the Centre’s control through the Lieutenant Governor.
When asked how the AAP will win full statehood for Delhi even if it wins all seven parliamentary seats in the capital, Kejriwal said its MPs would work towards the goal in the Lok Sabha.

“I have spoken to many parties. They will support our demand for full statehood for Delhi in Parliament,” he said.

Delhi goes to the polls on May 12, the sixth and penultimate phase of voting, and the results will be declared on May 23. So far, the AAP has fielded 34 candidates across the country in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. It has fielded candidates from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

AAP’s manifesto promised 85% reservation in college admissions and Delhi government jobs for residents of the city. The party said it would fill up two-thirds of vacancies in Delhi police and reserve 33% of the posts for women, stop a sealing drive targeting unauthorised constructions that traders say is hurting their business, regularise unauthorised colonies and provide a house through cheap loans to every voter’s family.

The party did not specify how it would keep each of its promises if Delhi is granted full statehood.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won all seven seats in Delhi in the 2014 general elections, called the AAP’s manifesto “unrealistic”.

“Kejriwal is a dream merchant and he is selling new dreams every day. There is no need for full statehood to provide basic amenities to the people of Delhi. Continuous power and water supply, reducing pollution, maintaining sewers and roads and providing a reliable transport system do not need full statehood,” said Shyam Jaju, BJP’s national vice president.

Delhi Congress chief and three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit said full statehood for the city is “not achievable.”

“I feel that the AAP does not understand that this won’t be done just because they are asking for it. Parliament needs to take a decision on this. Till the time, Parliament won’t do anything, nothing can be done. So, do you place the public’s fate on Parliament with only seven seats with you, that too, if they get it?”

Kejriwal criticised the Congress for doing “only political posturing” in the name of forging an alliance with the AAP. “For two months, the Congress kept going back and forth on new formulas for the alliance. If Modi-Shah (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah) win in this election, then (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi will be responsible for it. Alliances do not happen through Twitter or through headlines,” the Delhi CM said.

The Congress said Kejriwal had no intention to tie up with the Congress, which had offered to contest three of the seven seats, leaving the rest for the AAP, which, however, wanted the alliance to be extended to other states as well.

“…without any reason, he (Kejriwal) stepped back that is why we still have doubt about him being serious in defeating the BJP. The alliance chapter is now closed for us,” said the Congress’s Delhi in-charge PC Chacko.

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