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AAP In Delhi: What Delhi Voters Were Quick To See, What BJP Should Have Avoided

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By Sakshi Abrol:

‘Vanity comes before a fall’, goes an old saying, and the despicable fall of BJP in the power-packed revolutionary Delhi elections testifies to it.

‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’, goes another antiquated saying and the phenomenal victory of the Aam Aadmi Party with a spectacular majority testifies to it.

aap1

What the Delhi Voters were Quick to See:
Psephologists are quick to point out that the histrionics created by BJP in the course of this election did not go too well with Delhiites who are now tired of rhetoric and do not want to be impressed. They do not get enamoured by leaders standing on a higher pedestal basking in the glory of doing ‘big things’. They are neither carried away by the panache with which a leader executes himself during high-profile visits by VVIPs from across the globe. On the contrary, they heap scorn and turn their noses in disdain to a leader who chooses to call himself a ‘leader of the masses’ while ostentatiously dressing up to greet a foreign President, staging a monumental affront to all the people who can barely afford to cover their skins. Clearly, the elitist suit that Modi donned did not go too well with the voters who are no longer delusional but are aspirational. Of course, what Mr. Prime Minister wears is his personal choice and since he is on the losing end, there will be all sorts of allegations raised against him including the one criticizing his attire! The fact, however, is that there was a greater metaphorical meaning attached to such actions by the Prime Minister that mere symbolism can narrate and the mature voters of Delhi were quick to pick it up.

What the BJP ought to have Avoided:
The man who was seen as a humble ‘son of a chai-wala’ and an outsider to the establishment during the Lok Sabha elections had suddenly become a ‘superior being’ talking from the top while his opponent was reduced to being an ‘ordinary man’ speaking from amongst the people. The ‘Pradhan Sevak’ for whom the people voted in the Lok Sabha had suddenly become arrogant and elitist and the people chose to find refuge in a party that seems to offer an alternate form of politics. A form of politics sans the exclusionary VIP culture, coming from the people, where there is no hierarchical relationship between the ‘governing class’ and those who are ‘being governed’; this was what the AAP came to be associated with.

The Mature Electorate:
It is not just the BJP but also our dexterous psephologists who couldn’t gauge the voter sentiment correctly. It was assumed that the battle would be neck-to-neck between BJP and AAP but as it turned out to be, the victory for AAP was decisive. A crystal clear mandate coming from the voters is an articulation of the fact that they do not want to repeat the previous mistakes and lose out a year. The political maturity exhibited by the denizens of Delhi is something to cheer about. The last few weeks in Delhi have been electric and have given people the much needed entertainment relief. They cheered and laughed along when the self-proclaimed gurus and saadhvis reduced Hindu women to child bearing machines and spoke about ‘gharvapsi’. It is always fun to listen to fanatics speaking but you can’t take them seriously, can you? Calling Kejriwal names and coming out with colourful posters castigating AAP only helped BJP make Delhi voters laugh at those silly jokes. It clearly did not do anything to change their minds in favour of the celebrated face of BJP in Delhi- Madam Kiran Bedi. The voters of Delhi were smart enough to let this be an entertaining affair for them while BJP thought it would woo them with histrionics alone.

Hope in the Politics of AAP:
AAP on the other hand was structured on a more resonating spirit of ‘volunteerism’, the same spirit that RSS was once a champion of. AAP valiantly mastered the art of ‘positive campaigning’ with a number of vision documents, mandates, Delhi durbar etc., which none other party could clearly do. BJP tried to build castles in mid-air while its local political unit in Delhi lay in shambles. The volunteers of AAP on the other hand, came from within the people and thus reached out to them. Political analysts may regard this as a revolution in Indian politics.

An ordinary Delhiite is not interested in such hypothesis. Most people just want a safe and clean city with sufficient drinking water, affordable electricity, less congested roads, co-operative police officials who do not demand bribes and are more approachable. They don’t have much to do with changing political consciousness of a rising social democracy and hence they have pinned their hopes on the Aam Aadmi Party. The elections could or could not be a revolution yet, but can definitely be the beginning of one in the capital of India.

Also Read – In Pictures: This Is How Delhi Celebrated The Victory Of The Aam Aadmi Party

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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.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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