The fervour for the ensuing Assembly Election in Delhi for which voting is slated for 8 February has finally begun. While political parties are slowly unveiling the covers off their candidate lists, currently ruling Aam Aadmi Party is the first one to release their complete list of 70 candidates for the upcoming elections. And like every election since last year, SheThePeople has its aim set on bringing out the details of how women-friendly these elections are and the gender gap in the candidate lists of parties.
While AAP may have tried to woo women voters with its initiatives focussing safety in public spaces like making bus rides free for women, installing street light and CCTV cameras, its gender-inclusive outlook seems restricted to seeing women as a vulnerable part of the society rather than acknowledging their political understanding. This is why only eight candidates among 70 on the list are women. While the number has grown since 2015 when it fielded only six women candidates, the growth rate is despicable. This year, AAP’s women candidates are Rakhi Bidlan from Mangol Puri, Bandana Kumari from Shalimar Bagh, Rajkumari Dhillon from Hari Nagar, Dhanwati Chandela from Rajouri Garden, Bhawna Gaur from Palam, Pramila Tokas from R K Puram, Atishi from Kalkaji and Sarita Singh from Rohtas Nagar.
Of the eight women candidates, Bidlan, Kumari, Gaur, Tokas, Singh are sitting MLAs and Atishi, Chandela and Dhillon are first time MLA candidates from AAP. The only woman who was an AAP MLA who did not get a ticket again is Alka Lamba who won in 2015 from Chandni Chowk and this is because she is no longer a member of the party. Last year, she moved on to Congress of which she was a member of for many years before she joined AAP.
- Rakhi Birla
She held Women & Child, Social Welfare and Languages ministeries in the cabinet. In 2016, she also became the Deputy Speaker of Delhi Legislative Assembly, becoming the youngest person ever to hold the position. She also became the youngest person ever to become a cabinet minister at 28. A member of AAP since 2013, Birla was a journalist before entering politics.
- Bandana Kumari
In the Delhi assembly election of 2013, Kumari triumphed over three-time MLA Ravinder Nath Bansal of BJP from Shalimar Bagh- a stronghold of the party. She started her stint with AAP by becoming the president of AAP’s women wing Mahila Shakti. During her time as the president, she introduced 22 Gramin Sewa vehicles for females and senior citizens from Delhi metro stations in December 2014 to address women’s safety issue. She won the 2015 elections against BJP’s Rekha Gupta.
- Rajkumari Dhillon
An Ex- Councillor from Hari Nagar and a former Congress member being the district president (Tilak Nagar Mahila Congress), Dhillon is contesting for AAP from Hari Nagar constituency.
- Dhanwati Chandela
Dhanwati Chandela joined AAP in August last year. She has been a three-time councillor before joining the party and is the wife of former MLA from Rajouri Garden, Dayanand Chandela. This isn’t the first time Dhanwati is contesting from this seat as in 2018 as well, she fought the bypolls from Rajouri Garden but on a Congress ticket. However, BJP’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa defeated her.
- Bhawna Gaur
Bhawna Gaur’s political career started in 1997 when she was elected as an MCD Councillor in 1997 from Madhu Vihar area on a BJP ticket. However, she joined AAP when the party was formed and contested her first major election as an MLA candidate from Palam in 2015 and defeated Dharam Dev Solanki of BJP by a margin of 30,849 votes.
- Pramila Tokas
Businesswoman, Pramila Tokas is contesting once again from RK Puram constituency from, which she won earlier in 2015 against Anil Kumar Sharma of BJP by a margin of 19,068 votes. In the last five years, she has been embroiled in a few controversies because of her husband who was also arrested on charges of preventing public servants from working and assaulting them.
Rhode Scholar Atishi joined AAP in 2013 when she started working on education policies of the Delhi government when AAP came to power in the capital. She recently contested Lok Sabha elections as well on an AAP ticket from East Delhi constituency but was defeated by BJP’s Gautam Gambhir by a sharp margin. She serves as a member of the party’s apex executive body, the Political Affairs Committee and has also worked as the party’s spokesperson often on TV debates.
While AAP may have tried to woo women voters with its initiatives focussing safety in public spaces like making bus rides free for women, installing street light and CCTV cameras, its gender-inclusive outlook seems restricted to seeing women as a vulnerable part of the society rather than acknowledging their political understanding.
- Sarita Singh
Sarita Singh rose from the student wing of the party called Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti. While she is originally from Purvanchal, she fought the MLA election in 2015 at the age of 28 from Rohtas Nagar. Singh won over BJP’s sitting MLA Jitender Mahajan.