Women's safety, star women candidates, free bus rides to women, earnest appeals to women voters - Arvind Kejriwal's 2020 election campaign focused and relied heavily on women. And yet, now that AAP's ship has smoothly sailed to a third victory, women find it hard to secure a seat at the political table with no women being named as part of Kejriwal's cabinet.
Be it the much-emphasized focus on women's issues or the strategic placement of his wife as 'the woman behind his success' on the day of the elections, Kejriwal left no stones unturned to woo women voters before Delhi elections 2020.
On the day of elections, Kejriwal tweeted an 'appeal' to women voters pf Delhi, asking them to go out to vote in droves and even sparred with Union Minister Smriti Irani who called him out for asking women to "consult with men" before voting.
Now that their votes have secured Kejriwal his third victory, however, the Aam Aadmi Party chief has disappointed many with his all-male cabinet.
Soon after AAP's spectacular hat-trick in the capital, reports of Kejriwal wishing to maintain his old cabinet started flying. Incidental, out of the 62 seats that AAP won in Delhi, eight were won by women candidates including Atishi who was one of AAP star candidates. Atishi won from her Kalkaji seat with a margin of 11,393 vote after beating Bharatiya Janata Party's Dharambir Singh and Congress's Shivani Chopra.
Atishi nevertheless found no place at the AAP ministerial table. Neither did Raj Kumari Dhillon, Preeti Tomar, Dhanwati Chandela, Rakhi Birla, Parmila Tokas,Bhavna Gaur, and Bandana Kumari who make up AAP's eight winning women MLAs.
Women voters form a large chunk of Kejriwal supporters, who often projects himself as the "family man" who respects and vouches for gender equality and safety of women. In the 2015 elections, AAP won seats with higher percentage of women voters with a much greater margin than in seats that had a less women voters. Women played a decisive role in the 2020 elections as well. According to a poll-eve survey conducted by Lokniti-CDS, women voters gave AAP a 25 percentage point lead ahead of main rival BJP, thus contributing to the wide margin with which AAP won. Women were also 11 percentage points more likely to vote for AAP then men. Meaning if only men had voted for AAP or had women "consulted with men" as Kejriwal had asked them to on poll day, AAP's victory may have been at a much narrower margin, The Indian Express reported.
And yet, women received no slice of the cabinet pie in Delhi.
Many on the internet noted the snub and both critics and supporters of AAP and Kejriwal took to Twitter to call out the hypocrisy of using women's candidates to woo women voters but not give them portfolios once the deed was done.
As @ArvindKejriwal ji used to claim- distribution of ministries on merits. Don't they have any meritorious #women or they don't believe #women do have merits. @AamAadmiParty @FeminismInIndia @IndiaMeToo @MahilaCongress https://t.co/B1JRZe11rx— Dr.Chayanika Uniyal (@dr_chayanika) February 14, 2020
AAP is strange. Atishi is one of their recognizable faces. And no women in the cabinet. Shame really!— Sangita (@Sanginamby) February 14, 2020
Kejriwal is set to take oath as Delhi Chief Minister for the third consecutive time on Sunday, February 16. Sources said Kejriwal will repeat the Cabinet as all seven sitting ministers from AAP won their seats in the elections. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Rajendra Pal Gautam, Satyendar Jain, Kailash Gahlot, Gopal Rai and Imran Hussain are likely to be retained in the new AAP government, said the sources, adding that the portfolios will be decided later.