Why Are There No women in Arvind Kejriwal’s cabinet?
Eight women candidates win in Delhi elections, all from AAP. How does Arvind Kejriwal reward them? By making sure not one woman is in his cabinet. Not even Atishi Marlena. What is it with not giving women enough positions of power? She fought the elections for you, she toiled in her constituency, she wins your elections and you give the candidates this? This has come a shocker for many AAP who have been pleased with the election outcome but more important seen the party’s work in healthcare, education and other such sectors. Question being raised: After a clean sweep in the recently-concluded elections, eight women candidates have won the elections, as compared to six in 2015, all from AAP. This despite the fact that the party’s total number of seats has decreased from 67 to 62. AAP fielded a total of nine women candidates of which only one woman lost the election – Sarita Singh from Rohtas Nagar. So just why, will Arvind Kejriwal’s cabinet not have a single woman?
No female leader was included in the new cabinet despite eight female candidates emerging victorious in Delhi polls, where AAP won 62 of 70 seats.
Reacting to the gross lack of female representation, Congress leader Alka Lamba tweeted that Delhi’s women department has also been assigned to a male instead of a female in the newly constituted Delhi Assembly. Lamba, who is a former AAP member, tweeted: “#Delhi Government’s #Women’s Ministry is also given to a #Man Minister. My best wishes to the women of Delhi, stay safe, stay healthy. Once again women stand at the doors of men to get their rights. No more free ticket on the bus… ask for confirmed job in DTC.”
According to election observer Tara Krishnaswamy, women voted AAP 6% more than men per exit polls. “Moral: Schools, Healthcare, Electricity, Water – are women’s issues.” Atishi Marlena is being hailed as one of India’s more foremost education crusaders. But Kejriwal yet doesn’t feel the need to put her or any other woman in charge of key positions in the cabinet? “The Chief Minister feels that retaining ministers whose work won the party a second term is the right thing to do,” NDTV reports.
Is this a good enough reason? Candidates we are talking about here are women who won. We are not arguing for reservation, the argument in fact is on merit. Based on the fact that these women won their seats, should Kejriwal have not got women into his cabinet?
In 2020, eight women candidates have won the elections, as compared to six in 2015, all from AAP. But none of them will be a part of the Kejriwal cabinet.
Atishi Marlena, who won the election from Kalkaji, reports say, will not get the education portfolio, despite being the key advisor to Sisodia in planning and implementing the education policies that transformed public school education in the capital. Reportedly “Sisodia might be unwilling to give up the ministry where he had put in the most work.”
Incumbent MLA Rakhi Birla from Mangolpuri constituency held the cabinet ministry of Women and Child, Social Welfare and Languages, for a few months in AAP’s first term between 2013 and 2014. She also became the youngest ever cabinet minister of Delhi at 28 years of age. However, she will not make a come back to the cabinet in this term.
It’s ironic that on this count of gender balance in the cabinet, parties like BJP and Congress have generally done better? Not withstanding national versus state level, BJP saw the biggest contingent of women ministers in its second term as NDA 2019 on. AAP was notoriously in news for sending barely around 10 percent women candidates to poll. Kejriwal himself made a highly sexist comment during his speech on the day the city went to vote, asking women to discuss with men as to who deserves to be voted in, for which he was rightly slammed. With no women in the cabinet, the policies tend to have a masculine perspective. Even his policies including the free ride for women in Delhi buses, CCTV installation and equipping buses with marshals, etc. have been criticized across the board for dealing with the issue of women’s safety from the point of surveillance, and not focussing on sensitizing men into not committing crimes against women. A very big reason for this could be the missing women in the Delhi cabinet as it would have diversified these policy-making discussions.
This time eight women candidates have won the elections compared to six in 2015 all from AAP despite the fact that the party’s total number of seats won decreased from 67 to 62 this time. AAP fielded a total of nine women candidates of which only one woman lost the election – Sarita Singh from Rohtas Nagar.
Before Delhi went to poll, SheThePeople asked women students what their expectations from the upcoming government were. One of the students from St Stephens College and a member of Pinjra Tod collective, Maitreyi Jha had also resounded similar concerns when she said, “Specifically talking from a woman’s perspective, the initiatives taken by the current government are largely appreciable but the whole conversation around women’s safety is looked either from the perspective of seeing women as a mother, daughter, sister, etc. or increasing surveillance. With the installation of CCTV cameras everywhere, we also need to understand that these things can cause further issues and might not contribute to women’s safety as they think.”