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Safety or Just a Pre-Poll Sop? Twitter Debates AAP's Free Rides for Women in Delhi


Last Updated: June 03, 2019, 16:50 IST

Safety or Just a Pre-Poll Sop? Twitter Debates AAP's Free Rides for Women in Delhi

Months ahead of Delhi state elections, the Arvind Kejriwal government has announced free metro and bus rides for women to improve safety of public transport.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced free metro and bus rides for women commuters, in a bid to make public transport safer for them. Coming barely six months before the elections, the proposal has shocked many including citizens and politicians.

Kejriwal first hinted at such a plan on Saturday and ever since then, social media has been rife with debate over the issue. In fact, the announcement evoked an array of reactions. However, the best ones came from Bollywood director Pritish Nandy and the Congress-spokesperson-turned politician Priyanka Chaturvedi.

Reacting to the announcement, Nandy wrote "Women in Delhi will get a free ride on buses and the metro. What a wonderful idea!," he wrote. "Will Mumbai emulate this? All the trouble we are going through for the construction of the metro will then be worth it," the Mumbai-resident wrote.

However, one person did not take to the move lightly. Priyanka Chaturvedi, who is a vocal champion for women's empowerment on Twitter, took to Twitter to slam the AAP government. "With all due respect, women in Delhi didn’t ask for a free pass to ride when they voted for Kejriwal ji, they had voted for the safe environment promised to them," Chaturvedi wrote on the micro-blogging site.

It did not end there. After Chaturvedi's response prompted Nandy to ask, "Agree But why not recognise a good step? Women’s safety is a much larger issue and it needs the support of the law enforcement agencies.", he wrote. "And that, as far as I know, is not with Arvind Kejriwal."

Not one to back down, Chaturvedi instantly offered a counter, listing all the various actions that the government could have taken to improve women's safety.

Nandy and Chaturvedi are not the only two at loggerheads about their opinion on the new announcement, which many are calling a poll sop.

Others expressed skepticism toward the practicality and implementation of the same.

Many, as expected, brought up the gender point, claiming it was unfair to divide commuters on the basis of gender.

Not just men, many women too were left unimpressed and irked at the government not considering them capable of paying their own metro or bus fair.

However, it is important to be noted that many of the women outraging against the move on social media may themselves come from financially secure backgrounds and thus might not be able to appreciate the benefit of free public transport.

Meanwhile, some were simply confused about how safety and free rides were co-related.

Though Kejriwal said in Monday's press conference that only women who were in financial need should avail of the free pass, many such as TV Mohandas Pai said that subsidies of this sort should only be extended to the economically stressed.

But the announcement did get some thumbs up on Twitter too.

In an earlier announcement, a Delhi government official said transport minister Kailash Gahlot had already initiated action, holding meetings to discuss various aspects of fare waiver to women in all public transport buses — run by DTC and DIMTS — and Delhi metro.

However, officials had said that while allowing free travel in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses run by the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal System (DIMTS) may not be difficult, it will be "challenging" to do so in Metro trains. The Delhi government and the Centre are 50:50 equity partners in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

The move is expected to come into effect within three-four months.