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Monsoon Slugfest: The Sushma-Rahul Parliament Battle Where Only The Indian Voter Lost

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By Abhishek Jha

A day after Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked the Lok Sabha TV to “show all of them on TV“, the Congress continued its sloganeering in the parliament even as Sushma Swaraj claimed innocence in the Lalit Modi scandal. Responding to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s questions in the adjournment motion debate, the Minister of External Affairs said that her husband “was not Lalit Modi’s lawyer in the passport case” and that her daughter “was the ninth junior counsel accompanying the senior to the court“.

rahul gandhi sushma swaraj

While the minister had already offered an explanation on the 6th of August, this time she used the opportunity to target the Congress and remind the parliament of instances when the Gandhi family had extended help to alleged criminals. Taking a jibe at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, she asked him to learn his family history and ask Sonia Gandhi, “Mama, how much money was taken from Quattrocchi?” And “why did daddy allow the release of the killer of 15,000 people?” She was referring to the Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who had criminal charges against him relating to the Bofors scam, and Warren Anderson, who headed Union Carbide at the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy.

If speeches are anything to go by, the parliament was a great spectacle on Wednesday and supporters of both the leading national parties must feel greatly satisfied. Sonia Gandhi was congratulated by her party members for entering the well and Rahul Gandhi, too, gave a high-spirited speech in response to Sushma Swaraj. It is perhaps a result of these spectacles that only these two parties have headed the country. But if it is statecraft that must be lauded, then would it be any different if we were still being ruled by the British? They ruled us for a period far longer than any of these parties and have never since taken any cognizance of their atrocities.

The standard solution employed by our elected representatives in response to any allegation is to throw another allegation at their opponents. By doing this, they effect an equality of sorts that protects them from any electoral losses they might suffer due to the allegations. When the voters choose between the two, they find both the parties equally corrupt and, therefore, have no option but to discount corruption as an agenda. Thus, the Congress gloating over its successful campaign and the BJP’s self-approbation on Sushma’s speech is nothing but a mockery of the Indian voter.

However, the silver lining here is precisely that the cloud is becoming darker. It can be seen in the manner in which Sushma Swaraj talked about the Bhopal Gas tragedy. She drew the attention of the speaker, for she belongs to Madhya Pradesh and Swaraj hoped that the people of the state would sympathise with her, only to go on and show that she was only interested in making a point in the debate. “15000 people died“, she said, and then asked, “how many?“, and her enthusiastic supporters repeated after her “15000“. When dead people, irrespective of who ruled over them, become a mere statistic, it is time that we think of an alternative, rather than leave the country’s reigns to Bharat bhagyavidhata- the dispenser of India’s destiny.

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  1. ItsJustMe

    The article points us to a very relevant problem with our politicians being politicians and not parliamentarians within the parliament. It is devastating for the governing process and interests of the voters. But this particular rally was started off by congress.
    Foreign affairs minister did respond to their questions and she had every right to ask about Lalit Modi getting UK citizenship when congress was in power. How come Quattrocchi escaped without punishment and the government failed to extradite him for the the crime of killing 15000 people.
    A few years back 2 Italian sailors were extradited from Italy and they are serving their sentences in a Kerala jail for killing a fisherman by mistake. But Quattrocchi some how cannot be extradited despite him being responsible for the gas leak that killed a whole town of people. Do not tell me there is no money and corruption in this deal.
    Going further into Gandhi family, the whole dynasty stinks of corrupt money made off of the poor in India. Sonia Gandhi, a waitress in a restaurant in Italy became the leader of the largest political party in India with little to no political involvement in her career anytime before that instance. Typical dynasty politics played by filthy rich who had decades long tie ups with Gandhi family and wanted to make sure their interests are protected in the future as well. They manipulated the top level of Congress to accept Sonia as their leader. Then her son, coincidentally comes into politics and becomes the Prime Ministerial candidate. A young man born to one of the richest families in India with little to no involvement in administration or governance, has not even been a minister at state level vs a self made man who served in tea stalls to support himself with a proven track record of development and leading a state to riches as a chief minister (It was mostly propaganda and he was as much responsible for the Gujarat riots as the goons who burned the innocents, but he successfully got himself out of that puddle of mud), it was quite clear who the Indian voters will choose. It was very obvious that Rahul Gandhi would loose badly. Despite that, no one within congress pointed out to them that he is not our prime ministerial candidate, there are senior leaders who can contest, who if not win the election will bring in enough votes for us to be part of the coalition.

    Going further back in time, how did Indira Gandhi do as a Prime Minister, freaking great as per the Indian history books. Only problem I have with her is her decision to use India military to commit genocide of Sikhs, the state of emergency declared against the communist movements in Kerala and West Bengal. Ruling with an iron fist a totalitarian and ruthless leader who had no experience in Governance or Politics before she became Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world.

    Are we fucking dumb not to have the entire Gandhi family charged with treason and throw them in jail. Do we still need to have these traitors in our Parliament, influencing every single law and policy to benefit their corporate bosses. I am glad Indira was assassinated by her own bodyguards. If not we would have been living in a country like North Korea

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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.

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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.

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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, 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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