New Delhi: On Sunday, Arvind Kejriwal, the chief of Aam Aadmi Party, took oath as the Chief Minister for the third time at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan after scripting a scintillating victory in Delhi polls. However, amid celebrations and fanfare, the much-relevant question was on everybody’s minds– why no women in Kejriwal 3.0? Also Read - 'Hum Honge Kamyab,' Vows Arvind Kejriwal After Swearing-in For Third Term as Delhi Chief Minister
Soon after ‘India’s Mufflerman’ took the oath, six ministers–Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Kailash Gehlot, Imran Hussain, Rajendra Gautam were also sworn-in as cabinet ministers, prompting netizens to see the grave disparity. Also Read - Cuteness Overload! 'Little Mufflerman' Attends Kejriwal's Oath-Taking Ceremony, Steals the Show Yet Again
Seems like the party took its name ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ seriously and forgot to include women conveniently. Despite talks of empowerment, politics in India sadly remains a ‘boys’ club’ as there have been only four female cabinet ministers in the city since 1993. Also Read - AAP Ki Sarkar 3.0: Arvind Kejriwal, 6 Ministers Take Oath; CM Seeks PM Modi's Blessings For Delhi's Development
Here are the major talking points vis-a-vis the abysmal gender representation in new AAP cabinet:
No dearth of deserving women candidates
It is disappointing, to say the least, that even though AAP managed to win the elections with eight women candidates winning, there was no space for them in the cabinet. And it isn’t that the party has a dearth of deserving candidates.
Apart from star performer Atishi, other women like Raj Kumari Dhillon, Preeti Tomar, Dhanwati Chandela, Rakhi Birla, Parmila Tokas, Bhavna Gaur and Bandana Kumari were among the AAP candidates who emerged victorious in the 2020 Assembly election. Notably, Rakhi Birla was the one who was able to organise most Dalit votes from Mangolpuri area for the party, but still no recognition.
Even, the BJP and the Congress are better placed then the AAP, when it comes to giving representation to women.
Women steered AAP win
Interestingly, women voters form a major chunk of Kejriwal supporters and this time too, they played a decisive role in the 2020 elections.
According to a survey conducted by Lokniti-CDS, women voters gave AAP a 25% point lead against BJP, which clearly implies that their victory margin would have been much lower if only men had voted. Another Indian Express survey suggests that women had overwhelmingly voted for AAP in this election and about 60% of women voted for the party.
The report says, “So remarkable is the gender gap this time that it cuts across nearly all castes and communities, classes and age groups.”
AAP’s campaign relied on women’s issues
Be it women’s safety or the promise of free bus rides to women, a major part of AAP’s election campaign was centred around women issues, a well-thought-of ploy to woo women voters.
However, after being snubbed from the cabinet, we can’t help but notice AAP’s hypocrisy of using women’s candidates to seek the favour and support of women voters, but turning a blind eye once the work was done.
All mighty talks of women empowerment and lofty speeches don’t mean a thing unless there is female representation in politics and decision-making.
Atishi Marlena snubbed
Atishi’s exclusion particularly comes as a surprise to many as she played a crucial role in revolutionising education and reforming government schools. A key advisor to Sisodia on education policies, Atishi has been credited for transforming Delhi’s public school education–an agenda that is said to be one of the factors behind AAP’s spectacular victory.
While all that praise is welcome, it would have been better if those words of appreciation translated to getting a place in the cabinet.
Sexism, of course!
The day Delhi went to vote, Kejriwal made a highly sexist comment during his speech, asking women to discuss with men as to who deserves to be voted for. Interestingly, this comes from a man, who vouches for gender equality and, this seemingly casual comment speaks a lot about his choices.
Talking of sexism and anti-women policies, we can’t afford to forget Somnath Bharti, who was accused of domestic violence by his wife in the year 2015. The same year, an AAP leader Amandeep Kaur, accused male workers of sexual harassment, however, what followed was a snub, yet again. Many similar cases of abuse and molestation surfaced over the years, however, they too were conveniently brushed aside.
Despite being happy over AAP’s performance in Delhi, netizens too questioned Arvind Kejriwal about the lack of women representatives and voiced their disappointment:
Given that women voters and ministers played such a decisive role in steering AAP to power, it is time they get their due, or else 2025 won’t be the same!
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com)