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Modi And Shah Ruled Gujarat In the 90s, But Will Their Magic Work In 2017?

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In the present Gujarat assembly, the BJP has 115 seats and the Congress has 61 seats out of the total 182 seats. And this time, Amit Shah has announced that he and his party will target to win 150 seats in the election. The BJP has been ruling the state since 1995 and has a firm grip on the state.

Gujarat election is a matter of pride for Modi and the BJP. Many suggest it to be the semifinal before the Lok Sabha 2019. The election will also pave a way for the opposition to revive, unite and stop the unbeatable run of the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi is all set to take over as the party president soon. What would be more appropriate than the Gujarat assembly elections to revive the Congress by challenging the BJP in its stronghold?

Modi is projected as ‘Vikas Purush’ and the only leader of the contemporary Indian politics, who can make India as strong as many Indians dream. The results for the Gujarat election on 18 December 2017 will decide whether Modi is going to remain as strong as he is or if the aftermath of the economic slowdown down due to demonetization and GST has dented his image.

How Modi And Shah Uprooted The Congress In The 90s

The 90s saw the BJP’s rise in national politics as well as in Gujarat, riding on the wave of Hindutva politics created by the Rath Yatra in 1990. Modi also played a role in the Yatra to probably pave a way for BJP to gain power in Gujarat.

The BJP made a strategy to reap in the anti-Congress sentiments of Patidars, Brahmins, who were protesting and demanding reservations in education and government jobs, in their favour apart from the traditional formula to organise Kshatriyas (Thakors), Harijan, Adivasis and Dalit (KHAM).

After the BJP came to power in 1995, Modi and Shah worked together to destroy the Congress leadership in the rural areas. They employed a strategy to find the second most influential leaders in every village and manage all of them to join the BJP. This way, they created a network of 8,000 influential leaders.

Modi became general secretary of the BJP in the early 1990s. He convinced Patel to appoint Shah as the Chairman of the Gujarat State Financial Corporation, a public sector financial institution which finances small and medium-scale enterprises.

In 1999, Amit Shah was elected as Chairman of the richest District Co-operative Bank of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. After this Modi and Amit Shah never looked back.

Gujarat Elections And The Influence Of  The Patidars

Patidars are the economically and politically influential class of the Gujarat constituting around 16% of the population, spread over the region of Saurashtra and Kutch consisting of about one-third of the total 182 assembly seats.

The influence of the Patidar community can be seen by the fact that when Vijay Rupani took over as the new chief minister, succeeding Anandiben after the Patidar protest led by Hardik Patel in 2015, he increased the number of Patidar ministers to eight from six in his cabinet of 24 ministers. Rahul Gandhi too had begun his ‘Navsarjan Gujarat Yatra‘ by visiting the Patidar-dominated areas.

The Patel agitation led by a young graduate was started with a rally in the year 2015 with a demand for OBC status. This protest had become so influential that Anandiben was forced to resign from the post of chief minister after she failed to curb it.

Nitin Patel, the deputy CM of the state, also said that there would be a special inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge to look into the demands of Patidar before the assembly election.

Why Congress Lost The Confidence Of Patels And Other Upper Castes

During the early 80s, when Madhavsinh Solanki had announced reservations for the economically and socially backward class on the recommendation of Bakshi Commission, there was a protest and agitation by Patels, Brahmins and other upper castes.

The Patidars have been protesting and demanding OBC status for a long time. However, they have also voted regularly for the BJP for a long time.

If the BJP loses in Gujarat, it will be a major setback for Modi and the party. Gujarat is, after all, the model state which was sold by Modi in the Lok Sabha election of 2014 and other elections thereafter, the model that is to be followed for prosperity.

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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.

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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 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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