Kamla Bhasin, Hindustan Times
January 12, 2014

I must confess that I did not expect the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to do so well in the recently concluded assembly elections in Delhi. Nevertheless, I am happy that the party did well at the hustings. However, I, as well as my feminist friends, have been asking ourselves how different is the party from the others that are in the fray? Is the year-old party’s perspective on women and the issues of gender justice any different from the others? Unfortunately, I think the Arvind Kejriwal-party is not different from its opponents.

Why do I say so? The language AAP leaders, especially its chief and Delhi chief minister Kejriwal, use is telling. In his first speech in the assembly after he took over, Kejriwal explained who ‘aam aadmi’ is and  every sentence he uttered was in the masculine gender: “Aam aadmi kheti karta hai, chaand pe jaata hai, research karta hai”. This language and the thinking that went behind it exclude half the nation — 49% of India’s population — and this is truly reprehensible. It is clear that the mentality of AAP leaders is no different than those of our other national leaders who wish Independence Day to all the ‘countrymen’ of India.

If Kumar Vishwas, a poet and one of the top leaders of AAP, represents the thinking in AAP, then it is really worrisome. I have had the misfortune of watching two of his videos, in which he uses sexist jokes liberally to amuse his audience. The most objectionable was one about tennis player Sania Mirza and her Pakistani Muslim husband cricketer Shoaib Malik whom Vishwas called a “chhakka” or a eunuch.  Honestly, I could not believe my ears when I heard this. The remark is appalling, to say the least, and he must apologise to women for those insulting remarks.

In the 18 main demands for Delhi, there is only one about women and that is related to speedy justice for victims of violence; there is nothing about jobs for them or 33% reservation for women in the assembly.

Kamla Bhasin is a women’s activist


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