Women Voted AAP To Power, But No Women In Kejriwal’s New Cabinet

AAP came to power on the back of women’s support. But is that where AAP’s representation of women ends?

3 min read
AAP’s victory has largely been credited to their development-centric campaign and focus on issues like education, subsidised electricity and water, and provision of free public transport for women.

Despite coming to power because of women, why hasn’t AAP included a single woman MLA in the new Delhi government cabinet?

Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Kailash Gehlot, Imran Hussain and Rajendra Gautam were sworn in to the Delhi government on Sunday, 16 February.

The new cabinet is more or less the same as the old one, except for putting the Jal board under Satyendar Jain, moving the environment department to Gopal Rai, and handing Women and Child Development to Rajendra Pal Gautam.

In other words, the party that claims women’s safety and welfare is one of their top priorities, hasn’t included a single one of their eight women MLAs in its cabinet.

And even though responsibility for the portfolio of Women and Child Development changed hands, it didn’t find its way into a woman leader’s hands.

But Wait, There’s More!

Remember, AAP came to power this time on promises of women’s safety, welfare and subsidies.

On top of that, a Lokniti-CSDS survey accessed by The Indian Express, showed that 60% of women surveyed were more likely to vote for AAP, in contrast to just 49% of men who said they’d vote AAP.

So, shouldn’t the AAP, which is heavily dependent on women’s mandate, have included a female legislator in its cabinet?

“This is the cabinet that did good work for the past five years. This is the cabinet that the CM has chosen. I don’t see anything wrong with it,” Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said, when asked why no women were included in the cabinet.

Top this off with the figure that only 35% of women surveyed said they would vote for BJP, while 60% chose AAP, and it hints at AAP’s victory being most likely a result of women exercising their universal adult franchise.

Enough Women Candidates, But No Representation

Citizens took to Twitter to express their disappointment over AAP government excluding women from their cabinet yet again.

With 8 women MLAs, many with years of experience in politics and administration, AAP has many deserving candidates to choose from.

Here's a look at the potential candidates AAP could have picked from.

Raj Kumari Dhillon swept Hari Nagar with 53% of the votes, having retained her lead over the BJP’s Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga by a margin of over 20,100 votes.

Atishi, who had lost the Lok Sabha elections to the BJP’s Gautam Gambhir, won the Kalkaji seat on 11 February, by a margin of over 11,000 votes, beating the BJP’s Dharambir Singh and Congress’ Shivani Chopra.

Atishi has worked in education, also being instrumental in the AAP’s policy formation over the past 7 years.

But, so far, Atishi hasn’t found a place at the AAP’s table of ministers.

Neither has Rakhi Birla, who bagged over 74,100 votes, with 58% of the vote share and a margin of over 30,000 votes.

Rakhi came to the spotlight in 2013, being called a “giant-killer” after she defeated four-time Congress MLA Raj Kumar Chohuan in the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections at the age of 26!

She was also sworn-in as the cabinet minister of Women and Child, Social Welfare and Languages the same year, becoming the only female cabinet minister in the AAP government that year.

But Birla found no place in the second cabinet of Kejriwal.

Apart from these three, Preeti Tomar, Dhanwati Chandela, Parmila Tokas, Bhavna Gaur, and Bandana Kumari, all of who won for AAP, have not been named in the new cabinet.

So, is women’s representation confined to providing “safety and subsidies”?

Shouldn’t they step out of the shoes of mere beneficiaries and become active participants in the governance of the capital?

(With inputs from The Indian Express and India Today)

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