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Kya Aap BJP Se Pareshan Hain? Congress Won’t Do Any Good Either

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By Abhishek Jha

narendra modi-rahul gandhi
Images from: Reuters

The battering that the BJP received in Bihar, its embarrassing performance in the panchayat elections in UP, and its performance in the local body polls in Gujarat have been seen as a subduction of the Modi wave, giving a sense of relief. With the BJP leaders spewing invective every other day, the electorate might be forced to side with the Congress. However, reports from among the ten states where Congress rules show that the party is not a real choice. In fact, it does not seem to have even learnt its lessons from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

1. Kerala: Several ministers of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) have been linked to a multi-million scam that came to light in 2013. Although a judicial commission was appointed by the Chief Minister to probe the solar panel scam (which involved a firm Team Solar cheating people by seeking payments for providing renewable energy solutions) following protests, the probe has led to allegations against the Chief Minister Oomen Chandy himself. Recently, one prime accused Biju Radhakrishnan alleged – in his deposition before the judicial commission – that he had paid a Rs 5.5 crore bribe to the Chief Minister. Radhakrishnan also claimed to possess a video showing Chandy in a compromising position with Saritha Nair, another accused, raising questions about possible sexual favours sought by the CM. Although the Chief Minister has refuted the allegations, it has led to opposition parties demanding his resignation.

K M Mani of the Kerala Congress (M), who was the Finance Minister in the UDF government, has also had to resign after the Kerala High Court refused permission to the Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to close a probe into a bribery case in which Mani has been said to have demanded bribe from bar owners for renewal of their license.

2. Himachal Pradesh: An inquiry into a disproportionate assets case was registered against Virbhadra Singh and other family members earlier this year, alleging that he had amassed wealth to the tune of around Rs. 6 crore during his tenure as a minister in the UPA-II regime. An FIR was lodged in September, following which the CBI raided his residences. The same case, due to its links with the IT returns that Singh filed, is being investigated by the IT department and for money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate. Singh has denied any wrongdoing and appears to be seeking a reconciliation with the centre.

3. Uttarakhand: Harish Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, was seen as taking advantage of the polarisation around cow slaughter and beef when he made comments of a tone that is popularly attributed to the BJP. “Anyone who kills cows, no matter which community he belongs to is India’s biggest enemy and has no right to live in the country,” he said in a function in Haridwar in November according to reports.

4. Manipur: Protests led by tribal students organisations have been going on in Manipur, another Congress-ruled state, with deaths resulting from police brutality, following contentious legislations that seem to infringe on the rights of the tribal people. “If you look at these bills, they are certainly not Money Bills. Money Bills have to be about imposition of taxes and expenditures. But how can the Protection of Manipur People Bill that relates to the social security objectives and issues of much larger social, political and cultural consequences be labeled as a Money Bill? Similarly, how can Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill be called a Money Bill? The only reason they are calling these Money Bills is then certainly because under the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hills Area Committee) Order, 1972, every bill other than a Money Bill that affects wholly or partly the Hill Area needs to be referred to the HAC for consideration. Thus, on pretext of calling them Money Bills, they wanted to basically bypass the HAC,” Romeo Hmar of the Hmar Welfare Association told YKA in an interview.

5. Mizoram: Lal Thanzara, brother of the Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, had to resign both as a minister and as an MLA in August after opposition parties did an exposé that showed that he had shares in a company to which the state PWD was offering contracts, among other such allegations. The Mizo National Front filed an FIR in September with the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the State. However, Thanzara won back his seat in the by-elections held in November.

Congress, therefore, does not seem to be the antithesis of BJP that one is looking for. Mayawati in UP and the Lalu-Nitish combo in Bihar may have an edge over other parties in their respective states, as they present a somewhat more socially inclusive model of development and question Brahminical hegemony. However, even among them, they have compromised this position with an alliance with the Congress, which does not have appropriate representation of SC/ST/OBC members in its apex body and still clings to Gandhi’s views on caste, which are considered casteist. The AAP has tried to present an alternative against corruption, but its ousted members seem to show that it is still far from being a party one could laud with apprehension. The common man is yet to see a real alternative.

You must be to comment.
  1. Pooja

    “How much Rahul Gandhi knows, when will he know.” Arun Jaitley … Epic statement .

  2. Srinivas Murthy

    “Mayawati in UP and the Lalu-Nitish combo in Bihar may have an edge over other parties in their respective states, as they present a somewhat more socially inclusive model of development and question Brahminical hegemony”
    Asswipe, look where they have taken UP and Bihar to respectively. Mayawati who used Government helicopters to transport her chappal and installs her own statues, beats up people who won’t give money to her birthday parties, she is your role model in challenging “Brahminical hegemony”, you scumbag?

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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 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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