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Assembly Polls 2020: Who Will Win The Battle For Delhi?

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The recent performance of non-BJP front in the assembly elections of Haryana and Maharashtra might have reaffirmed the beliefs that BJP juggernaut is quite susceptible to a spirited fight. The Delhi Assembly election is approaching, and the season of high decibel allegations is possibly coming in soon, again. But there is an important situation to watch out for.

The larger battle is being waged on the image of the two leaders of BJP and AAP.

Parties contesting the Delhi Assembly election will re-enact the classic story of a farmer befriending a snake to kill the rat who eats his grains. But once the rat is dead, the story and the relationships between the character changes. However, in the fight for Delhi election, it is difficult to point out with certainty to who exactly is the farmer or the snake. It’s also difficult to guess who is smarter of the two.

Delhi Assembly election is due early next year, but its relevance and its potential in reigniting the imagination of the nation have become obsolete due to varying factors, which includes its own fall from the grace in the handling of internal dissent and governance paralysis in the first few years.

AAP came riding on the imagined wheel of revolution, and soon became the ball bearing of the same wheel that characterized the mainstream political system (as it started weighing of the winnability and affordability of its contesting candidates). The rise of Kejriwal in Delhi was parallel to the rise of Modi at the national level.

Interestingly, the AAP, which continues to dominate the allegiance of a vast majority of capital’s residents, fell flat on its face in parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2019. Both the major political players of the city had managed to diminish and discredit the opposition in good measure, and Kejriwal is no exception. The image of being an ultra populist; a champion of Dharna Politics and intolerant to internal dissent, is going to be tested again.

In general, AAP’s has suffered a definite set back. But even after all this, everything is far from lost in Delhi for AAP. A casual discussion with the Delhi middle class will reveal that it continues to endorse the Party, although now, the reasons have changed quite significantly. While first coronation was based on the Party’s projection of the politics-for-hope where everyone bought the hope-candies from the new traders-in-town, the second coronation is quite possibly going to be based on the politics-of-hope, where everyone hopes (unlike last time where the parties themselves promoted the politics) to retain at least the candies given by the Party in place of the original hopeone.

AAP’s image has suffered a definite set back. But even after all this, everything is far from lost in Delhi for AAP.

The AAP exceptional success of scale in re-designing the government schools, initiating Mohalla Clinics, and the championing the welfare-ism (in the form of electricity, water subsidies and subduing the profit-making but registered as not-for-profit educational institute) in the city-state is hopefully going to retain a sizable vote share in the assembly election. There continues to be a stream of support from the poor and middle class section of the society as they are the largest beneficiaries of the government schemes.

Politically, Delhi, over the three decades of the electoral odyssey, has revealed one thing quite clearly: a party united under one person by large has a better prospect. Mr Kejriwal has this unique advantage, much like his predecessor Late Sheila Dixit, whose demise is a serious blow to the party’s prospect in the coming election unless they come up with a plan of their own. The BJP suffered much due to its internal issues and couldn’t win a CM-ship for the last five assembly elections in a city that is often called as the bastion of RSS-BJP owing to the large west Punjabi-refugee population of the City.

Another factor predicting that BJP could be in a quick-sand situation right now is its failure to create and uphold a narrative that sounds beneficial to the masses, who are in real-terms beneficiaries of Kejriwal’s governance. The recent manifesto also revolves around discrediting Kejriwal more than creating a legitimate alternative for the voters.

Modi’s appeal might be a distinct advantage for the BJP, but the failure of local leaders to put up a unified assault can act as a spoiler once again. BJP’s president Shah had hinted that BJP might declare a CM candidate prior to assembly elections in Delhi to take on Kejriwal; hence, he is acknowledging the leadership problem in its state unit. Still, the larger battle is being waged on the image of the two leaders of BJP and AAP.

Team-Kejriwal’s political strategy was unique at the beginning, but soon, its cadres fell apart due to the expulsion of a number of founding members.

It is important to note that Modi not only decimated Kejriwal at the height of Anna’s movement during his 2014 face-off in Benares but he also led two consecutive successful campaigns of Lok Sabha in the Delhi-NCT. One silver lining for the AAP is that their historical mandate, in their second attempt came despite Modi campaigning against the AK-47.

The irony is, it remains as AAP’s only silver lining as it failed to repeat the same in the subsequent Municipal elections. To be fair, Team-Kejriwal’s political strategy was unique at the beginning, but soon, its cadres fell apart due to the expulsion of a number of founding members, and therefore, at a time when most of the parties are hugely invested in advertisement and trolls, AAP’s uniqueness has become too common to be unique anymore.

There are strong chances that another player, Congress, will not only make a dent in AAP political fortune in the coming election but can also force AAP to replace the tweeting alliance of the AAP-Congress into a real alliance based on political realities. While AAP more or less is still the strongest candidate for the next succession, the Modi-led BJP electioneering has definitely improved—as it has tasted electoral victories even in those states where, similarly, there was no unanimity among its state leadership such as Maharashtra, Haryana and even the mammoth state of Uttar Pradesh.

The above article was first published here.

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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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