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Why BJP’s Future Plan Of Action Depends On Delhi Assembly Elections

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The case of Delhi is an amusing one. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not have a Chief Ministerial candidate against Arvind Kejriwal, and in my opinion, this is similar to the opposition in the general elections, who seemed to be faceless against Narendra Modi

As per my observations, when it comes to elections, the BJP has been successful in pushing the opposition on the defensive. The opposition hasn’t produced any counter to the BJP’s Hindutva rhetoric or used the same rhetoric effectively – as tried by the Congress in the last general election. However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has refused to play into the hands of the BJP. Arvind Kejriwal has steered away from attacking the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, not giving any window to the BJP for retaliation. It has largely focused on common issues and publicised itself as a clean government.

Arvind Kejriwal has steered away from attacking the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, not giving any window to the BJP for retaliation.

In the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, the AAP astonished everyone by winning 67 seats, out of 70, whereas the BJP could only rope-up 3 of them. Following this, Narendra Modi lost to Mahagathbandhan in Bihar and Mamta Banerjee in West Bengal. It sent out a message that the invincible figure of Narendra Modi is vulnerable in assembly elections.

This year the situation is not so different; the BJP has won the general election with a brute majority and hopes to win Delhi after 21 years. More than political, I believe it will be a moral victory that will impact the plan of action for future elections. Some of the significant elections to occur after Delhi are that of Bihar and West Bengal.

In Bihar, Nitish Kumar leads the government in coalition with the BJP. During the 2015 assembly elections, the Janata Dal (United) won 71 seats and the BJP won 53 seats. Through the developments of Maharashtra elections, it is clear that the BJP will not settle for a secondary role in a coalition. Hence, the situation in Bihar is vexing, as both parties will fight for a greater role in the coalition, and none can declare to be at an advantage on the basis of last election’s results.

The outcome in Delhi can influence who will have the upper hand when leaders sit to decide the seat-sharing formula for 2020. I believe a loss for BJP in Delhi can put Nitish Kumar and his party at a better bargaining position.

A victory in the Delhi election will silence the questions on Narendra Modi’s ability to win elections.

Last year, the BJP lost ground in Jharkhand and Maharashtra but aims to compensate in West Bengal. The state has 42 Lok Sabha seats – the third-highest, and it also has 16 Rajya Sabha seats. Therefore, any amount of gain here will make the BJP’s position stronger in national politics.

Realising this, over the years, the BJP seems to have expanded its Hindutva rhetoric to West Bengal, by characterising Rohingyas as a security threat and mobilising Hindus using the Rath Yatra. Mamta Banerjee’s administration denied permission for it but the effect was somewhat achieved.

Certainly, The BJP has performed better, increasing their tally from a mere 2 in 2014 to winning 18 seats in 2019 general elections. The party secured 37.4 per cent of votes in 2019.

Mamta Banerjee was seemingly aware of this uptick in Modi’s popularity among the people of West Bengal and I think she desperately needed to dilute the gaining support. In my opinion, to achieve that, she was among the strongest critics of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The unprecedented protests by students against CAA-NRC has impeded the gradually growing support for Narendra Modi. In one case, a Jadavpur University student tore up the copy of CAA while receiving her degree and shouted, “Hum kagaz nahi dikhayenge (We will not show the documents).”

Due to these nationwide protests, there are floundering opinions that trust in the governance of Narendra Modi has diminished. A victory in the Delhi election will silence the questions on Narendra Modi’s ability to win elections, otherwise, and Mamta Banerjee and the Congress can use the Delhi defeat to amplify Modi’s popularity crisis.

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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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