Where men and women are similar in power. And there is no women’s wing.

What happens when a political party refuses to see violence, crime, sleaze,    misogyny and corruption as an unavoidable part of fighting elections?

Those who would rather avoid crime, violence, sleaze, misogyny and corruption (etc) are suddenly finding it possible to join politics.

Those who want to work for the people of India are finding it possible to join politics. 

It’s true. 

“The stress on non-violence has had the unexpected side effect of turning the whole party into an area where men or women are very similar in power.”

I agree with ‘Women in politics in India: a tsunami on the horizon‘, By Vidyut Gore Kale 

… something completely unprecedented in  Indian politics … I can only celebrate.

Women who have challenged the status quo in real life are entering the corridors of minimal representation of women and token power.

Unnoticed in the media hype…

One by one, without much sensation, right along with other candidates, is the steady growth of powerful women rising from the masses and shouldering the responsibility of being leaders of a maverick revolution, the likes of which India hasn’t seen before…

* * *

Here we have not just women leaders emerging, but there is no women’s wing. Women are leading just as same as any man. The stress on non-violence has had the unexpected side effect of turning the whole party into an area where men or women are very similar in power.

* * *

Here are some of the women who have recently made news one way or the other related with the party.

Anjali Damania, state convenor of AAP’s Maharashtra unit, contesting from Nagpur against Nitin Gadkari

Meera Sanyal, renowned banking professional, contesting from Mumbai South (…. Does India need competence and vision like this steering its future? Hell yes.)

Soni Sori, an adivasi teacher framed by a corrupt system and brutalized and raped in jail does not let her voice falter

Medha Patkar was earlier planning to contest independently, and Aam Aadmi Party had declared that they would support her anyway. She has since joined the party.

Gul Panag. “actor, activist, aviator, animal lover, adrenalin junkie, adventurer, avid traveller, automobile & fitness enthusiast, biker, entrepreneur, student, writer”

Shazia Ilmi is among the oldest of Aam Aadmi Party women leaders. She got my respect when she contested in Delhi Elections breaking unsaid norms on religious politics by contesting from a “non-Muslim” constituency.

Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya, India’s first woman DGP, contesting from Haridwar

Older readers may remember a television serial called Udaan that had a lot of girls wanting to be cops. Yep. This is *that* Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya.

Balwinder Kaur, a farmer activist who mobilized women farmers to fight for their rights is AAP’s candidate for the constituency currently represented by Naveen Jindal.

Many in Aam Aadmi Party were disappointed when Irom Sharmila declined to contest from an Aam Aadmi Party seat. Yet, as I write, it becomes clear that the refusal was to contest the election alone, and she walks with the party like many other inspiring women of power who have their independent identities for their struggles for what is right. This image came in just as I was about to end this post.

Support for Aam Aam Aadmi Party by Irom Sharmila, the Iron lady of Manipur

I remember reading some research paper on women in politics, and a point remains in my mind about the link between corruption and disempowerment of women. I don’t recall the paper, but the insight that remained in my mind was that with power largely residing in the control of men, corruption naturally becomes a playing ground for men as it thrives on “networking” – to put it mildly. Not to mention the conditioned reluctance in women to engage in questionable activities with men. And somewhere in my mind a link forms of the spontaneous emergence of women leaders in a party dedicated to fighting corruption.

In my view, while the party continues to inspire and provide support to women to be powerful, it is worth bringing to power to be able to tackle far more serious crimes.

And there are more. Many more nameless ones who get attacked by insecure mobs of fanatical parties. Who get threats and die. Still others who live and work tirelessly shoulder to shoulder with the men to allow the party to sustain its rocket like growth trajectory without splintering.

And they are safe. I was amazed to see a few tweets on women’s day by volunteers of AAP thanking the party for making the events so safe for them. These are practical things. They exist if you are like that. No amount of presenting can make them happen.

I do not doubt anymore. The lives of women will be transformed by Aam Aadmi Party coming to power.

Please read the entire post here

Related Posts:

Arvind Kejriwal

I do not like reservation.


26 thoughts on “Where men and women are similar in power. And there is no women’s wing.

  1. Pingback: It pays to be related to the right people on Holi :D | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  2. I’ve been trying to do a post on this subject. To all political parties clamoring to woo voters on women empowerment (including AAP), I want to know what their stance is on the following issues:
    1) On criminalizing marital rape like any other rape
    2) On banning legal polygamy and removing gender bias from Muslim Personal Law
    3) On law specifically aimed against all sorts of Kangaroo courts and diktats (I’m not asking for a ban – I want a law which explicitly makes people who issue illegal ‘rulings’ as criminals, to be punished at par with those who actually execute the ‘orders’.)
    4) On increased paternity leave and maternity leave at work place; and on covering health issues of pregnant women in unorganized labor sector
    5) On strict laws against forced marriages and child marriages (adults marrying children should be punished too)
    6) On declaring clean candidates who don’t have a misogynistic history for every seat
    7) On the much-needed police reforms without our country will never be safe for its citizens
    8) On sex education and gender sensitization at all levels
    Will decide whether AAP is progressive or not based on the above….


  3. // The lives of women will be transformed by Aam Aadmi Party coming to power.//
    I seriously doubt this statement. AAP has their hearts in place with good intention but the failure in Delhi shows that despite having a good string of victories they do not have the courage to take the cause forward. Having a string of woman candidates does not indicate their willingness to leverage their opinion in decision making. As it is seen earlier, AAP runs on sole decision of top few people and they use these woman only as a pawn in their game.


  4. I really liked AAP when they started and I thought we might not have to choose between kua and khayi. But I dont feel very comfortable anymore. They would be good for fight against corruption. But I dont know how well they will handle Law, finances, external affairs, defense. Too much tamasha going on. They had such a good chance of turning Delhi around. Siggghhh. They probably need more experience at state level politics and governance before taking the center stage.


    • They actually started working on all the 17 things they said they would. Amongst other things, I would like them to continue their work on Government Schools – they have compiled a list of what each school needs – nobody else has attempted to do anything serious about education for children.


  5. Awesome list from freebird! Wanted to elaborate on 7 – specifically – train police on treatment of women and women’s safety in public – street harassment, harassment in crowded places such as movies, buses, malls, also harassment on college campuses – should be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately, using a standardized criminal code. All public environments must be safe, supportive, and positive environments for women to engage in. Women reporting crimes should be received professionally and objectively, rather than moralistically (giving advice on how to dress or not to venture out at certain times or unaccompanied).


    • THIS.
      //Women reporting crimes should be received professionally and objectively, rather than moralistically (giving advice on how to dress or not to venture out at certain times or unaccompanied).//


  6. Irom Sharmila has always resisted standing for election. She has always given her reasons to those who wanted to hear them. She certainly did endorse AAP. Mr Kejriwal had contacted her by letter before the elections in Delhi promising to help her as he had long admired her. She asked me to press him for help when he was CM I passed through Delhi in January this year. Although I couldn’t meet him. I was one of many hundreds who waited outside his block of flats early in the morning he did strike me as the real McCoy and I went to the Secretariat after he left his home. Crowds were pressing around him it must have been how it was like for Gandhi-ji. I was let into the Secretariat met with his secretary and she promised to have him meet with Sharmila if she were sent to Delhi. They won’t send her to Delhi for trial. They want to keep her isolated. It would be kind for Mr Kejriwal to meet with Sharmila either before or after the elections if he is busy for now. I don’t think it will make much difference in the long run. Manipuris still sell their votes and haven’t even worked out that they can take the bribe and vote for someone else because the promise of government contracts or other bribes won’t happen. But he struck me as genuine. Sharmila is a kindred spirit. As others feel yes all humans have clay feet. But India needs the spirit of AAP it doesn’t have to be that party. But it has to end the endemic corruption which is destroying its future. I am not asking Mr Kejriwal to meet with Sharmila as a tit for tat deal. But because he seems a genuine person. She can’t influence the elections in Manipur. So it won’t matter whether he visits before or after the elections. But it would be a decent thing to do and I think they would get along. She endorsed AAP because well let Mr Kejriwal meet with her and she can tell him herself. The next production warrant for her appearance at the Delhi Patiala Court is for the end of the month but there is no way the Manipur Congress UPA government will let her out of their control before the election. Rahul won’t visit her. He is going to address a pre-ordered crowd of 60k customers. Mr Modi won’t see her. They are politicians. Mr Kejriwal struck me as an ordinary human a mango man. I hope he’ll visit Sharmila because its wrong to keep her isolated. You can write her directly Irom Sharmila Chanu, Human Rights Defender, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795005, India. India needs to do something urgently about corruption otherwise it makes little difference which of the two netas get in just a different set of babus make more money. But AAP can win if anti-corruption is taken up. I wish India well.


  7. Ouch! Can’t help noticing IHM’s readership doesn’t seem as gung ho about AAP as last time she wrote about them. Too much nautanki turning off normal people? Only a handful of hardcore Modi-haters left?


    • For me it’s not really party politics but I do understand party politics and it’s a pity that in a healthy democracy people vote in such irrational ways. As an outsider who just wants one law removed the AFSPA I did notice a sort of spring in Indian politics which wasn’t about hate. Anna Hazare’s movement the precursor to AAP did seem to be a turning point where ordinary Indians had enough of the endemic corruption. I can give anecdotes but most Indians have a story of how an official won’t just do their job, so ordinary Indians collude because it will be quicker to pay the chai panni. Of course it happens whereever their is human greed. But it has become institutionalized in Bharat part of the social structure like the caste system. But it looked like people had had enough. The other change though that seems to have regressed was at the gang rape murder of Nirbaya. The middle classes thought at first a medical student brahmin woman had been raped and panicked. By the time they had worked out she was just another OBC and only a physio trainee the group hysteria was no longer controllable. You remember the woman many swore they would never forget her death would not be in vain. No, me neither. That was December. By February and the annual 1 Billion rising everyone had moved on. But if you put your mind back to that time there seemed hope for change. My opinion based on not knowing India that well is that it’s the BJPs turn to rule and Mr Modi might bring many positive changes in terms of technological development. I think he may even bring in the law change I want because it’s good business. Once AFSPA is gone from Manipur I get Sharmila and India can carry on being India. Its your country I have no opinion on what you really want for it and whatever you decide it doesn’t involve me, unless she wants to come back and then there isn’t going to be that much I can do about it either way. Greater respect for women and dealing with a really quite horrific rape culture is going to be a harder sell. Someone asked if AAP could bring marital rape laws into effect. I don’t believe India is ready for that. Sharmila has a death threat via honor killing against her but the only public reaction I have heard from Manipuris is yeah its really sad that families kill their girls oh if I get my hands on the scribe who published that I’ll beat him to death. That’s why few scribes tell her story. I think it’s as likely for Indian men to think that marital rape makes any sense as for him to think that having his chapatis made for him hot and fresh in the morning is somehow a criminal offence. It has taken western democracies many generations to evolve laws around equality. Nobody likes giving up power. I know young Indian men talk the talk they tell me its the only way they can get laid these days. But few in India really want the loss of power equality might bring. On corruption I hope Mr Modi takes up the challenge of limiting corruption, that he makes some overture to lessening the culture of corruption. The polls could be wrong maybe AAP will take many more seats. Or maybe the Gandhi magick will work again. I hope whoever takes power on behalf of the people of the liberated republic that they continue with the sting operations, they continue to frighten those officials with power that they will be arrested if they continue to support the bribe culture. I hope this change doesn’t go the way of the Nirbaya protests. But it’s not my country, my country was invaded in the 1950s so now I have no country. And for what it’s worth I believe Mr Modi will remove the AFSPA from Manipur as part of a package of redevelopment there. After that India will continue to be India and no one person’s opinion is going to make much difference.


      • “The middle classes thought at first a medical student brahmin woman had been raped and panicked..”
        I think you do great disservice to the protestors. The dissent was based on the brutality of the crime, not the caste and profession of the woman.
        There was a gang-rape of a medical student in Manipal last year but no protests. People moved on because that’s human nature.


  8. A great website to get informed on the election and the makeup of our legislature….maybe information on who opposes the women’s reservation bill (http://thefivefortyfive.com/a-brief-history-or-the-lack-thereof-of-women-in-parliament) can influence some of our voting choices.

    Here is a list of scams and the involved: http://thefivefortyfive.com/the-incomplete-list-of-scams-you-need-to-know-about

    Before voting, you can even find the local tainted Lok Sabha MPs here http://thefivefortyfive.com/interactive-map-find-your-local-tainted-lok-sabha-mp. In addition to worrying about what AAP can/cannot do, and hitting the reset button with our existing choices, maybe voters can begin with NOT voting for MPs with criminal records, opposing women’ s representation, and involvement in major scams. Just sayin.


  9. http://aamjanata.com/what-is-paid-news-in-india-and-why-is-it-such-a-problem/

    “Indian citizens have the freedom of speech. But freedom of speech in itself means little without freedom of information. If you are free to decide for yourself and speak up, but you are deliberately fed information that makes something look really good and something look really bad, your condemning what was informed to you as bad, or your praising what was informed to you as good holds little meaning. “


  10. Pingback: My mom and AAP :D | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  11. Like IHM it amazes me to see intelligent people so cynical and pessimistic about AAP. Compared to the alternTives, big or small, this is the only party that offers hope for the future. Surely, thats apparent. In the news media, kejriwal is constantly criticized for resigning from government and that along with his ‘anarchist’ tendencies is held up as proof that he is unfit to govern or hold office. Anyone who followed the scenes that Delhi Vidhan Sabha witnessed and the kind of veiled though still vehement and absolute opposition that both bjp and congress displayed towards passing the Delhi lokpal bill it was apparent that kejriwal would never be able to affect any major changes on aap’s main poll plank, freedom from corruption. It was right that he resigned. He proposes to change the status quo and for this he needs the numbers in parliament. Because it’s obvious that he will never receive any help from the established parties that need the status quo to continue for their very survival.

    And modi? I’m not a Gujarati so cannot comment on the gujrat model and what he has achieved in that state. Or his personal integrity. But I have not been impressed by his speeches so far. They lack vision or new ideas. When I contrast him and the bjp with kejriwal and aap, I know who I would vote for.


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