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Here’s Why The Congress Suffered A Drubbing In The Delhi Elections

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By Ruchi Bambha:

December 8, 2013 jolted not only the political parties and the people interested in politics, but also flabbergasted those who had kept an indifferent approach towards the “fight for chair” melodrama. The news on the television resonated only one thing “The end of an era”, the 15 years of congress party’s legacy came to a halt when it secured only 8 seats out of 70 in the Delhi assembly polls. The BJP secured 32 seats and the Aam Aadmi party (hereafter mentioned as AAP) 28 seats, with none of them constitutionally being fit to rule alone.

Sheila Dixit

The defeat of Congress not only marked an end to Sheila Dixit’s three term rule but also highlighted AAP’s strong and irrefutable potential to present a good show. AAP, a party formed only a few months ago with the broom as its party symbol, went all the way to make a “Vrrrooom” for itself amid the eminent parties. While Ms. Dixit has addressed the media saying the reason for the defeat will be analyzed, there are a few reasons which might have let to the great fall of the party.

When you look at the turn of events, it is interesting to note that the AAP defeated Congress by a whopping 22,000 votes, the same party which was once not even considered fit to be called a party by the older and prominent parties, Congress and BJP. AAP’s peaceful protests and rallies against corruption were met with “latthi charge” and water cannons. The fact that a nouveau confederation was trying to touch chords in the lives of common people and was ready to fight against the giants of the country’s policy makers drew a lot of attention. The people who were bereft of hope following the infinite number of scams, scandals, corruption cases and poor governance by the UPA at the center vented out their frustration in the state assembly polls with the congress’s defeat in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. When Anna Hazare spearheaded the Lokpal Bill along with eminent people like Arvind Kejriwal, people could only see a messiah in the AAP, they visualized it as an alternative to the rotten government.

Recapitulating the 15 years of Congress’ governance in Delhi, we do see development in terms of transportation, as the Delhi Metro and comfortable DTC buses eased the travelling problem of many Delhiites. The water scarcity and electricity problems were combated relatively in a better manner. However, we cannot miss on the classic example of misgovernance when the Common Wealth Games showcased or in fact exposed the deep seated corruption underlying in the whole process. The CWG became symptomatic of the Delhi government’s inefficiency.

Also, the issues of women safety were met with much negligence. The number of rapes accounted every year in Delhi is figuratively touching the sky making it one the most unsafe places on earth for women. The 16th December case, when one of the daughters of the nation was brutally raped and beaten and the country was demanding justice for her, all we could hear was a blame game between Sheila Dixit and the Home Ministry, each one accusing the other of negligence only to further aggrandize the pain of the people. It is almost impossible to visualize a safe night out for a woman who is alone and not in some big group.

Looking at the economic front, the increase in the fuel prices and the price rise of requisite vegetables like onions left people in a disarray. At this particular time, when Aam Aadmi Party (the name resonating such to extinguish plight of a common man and heralding his power) came making gigantic and passionate promises, the people spotted the bellwether in Kejriwal. They saw a Christ in him who would capacitate the idea of the redemption of the nation. The hurt nation ramified the votes between BJP, the other experienced party who had been hard hitting at the Congress’ policies appeared as a strong contender under the leadership of Narendra Modi, and AAP which was new and inexperienced yet worth trusting because of its anti-corruption policies.

However, what people missed to notice was that though their anger was by far genuine but their hopes that AAP would stabilize everything was not. AAP’s promises, as sociologist S.Vishwanathan says, are “too crowded”. Their promise to reduce electricity bills by 50%, when the state itself buys giving the suppliers a profit of 300%, seems very distant. Moreover, their promise to reduce prices when the whole country is under high inflation looks like some whimsical dream. The idea to make 700 liters of water free to the families though sounds sweet in the our ears but seems far-fetched when the hold of the tanker mafia in Delhi is so strong that even old and well established parties could not uproot them.

The idea is to be optimistic amid the slagging political framework. The people wanted to free themselves from the reigning legacy and adopt a party which caters to their needs and connects with them.With Congress, they saw intaglio ways of governance, with BJP they see a dynamism and with AAP they see simplicity. The fall of the reign was inevitable at this juncture .The damage was done and thus it led to the demise of Congress.

Life is all about learning from yesterday, living for today and hoping for tomorrow.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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