At a day when the National Capital went to polls, the AAP supremo which is known for his controversial utterances kicked up yet another row- this time with a rather misogynist remark that clearly looks down upon women.
He tweeted, “Vote daalne jaroor jaiye. Sabhi mahilaon se khas appeal…jaise aap ghar ki jimmedari uthati hain, vaise hi mulk aur Dilli ki jimmedari bhi aapke kandhon par hai. Aap sabhi mahilayain vote daalne jaroor jayain aur apne ghar ke purushon ko bhi le jayain. Purushon se charcha jaroor karain ki kise vote dena sahi hoga (Please cast your vote. Special appeal to women- Just like you bear the burden of your home, the responsibility of the country and Delhi is also on your shoulders. All women must go and cast their votes, and also take the men in your house along with you to vote. Please also make it a point to discuss with men whom it would be better to vote for).”
वोट डालने ज़रूर जाइये
सभी महिलाओं से ख़ास अपील – जैसे आप घर की ज़िम्मेदारी उठाती हैं, वैसे ही मुल्क और दिल्ली की ज़िम्मेदारी भी आपके कंधों पर है। आप सभी महिलायें वोट डालने ज़रूर जायें और अपने घर के पुरुषों को भी ले जायें। पुरुषों से चर्चा ज़रूर करें कि किसे वोट देना सही रहेगा
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 8, 2020
The tweet reeks of misogyny, as the AAP supremo clearly suggests that the wisdom of women cannot be trusted and that they cannot make an informed decision without prior discussions with men. He also restricts the general role of women to that of housewives.
Kejriwal has virtually questioned the right of women to cast their vote independently which is a part of their right to be an integral part of India’s democracy. Such remark is first of its kind in India’s political context and obnoxious misogyny of this kind is somewhat peculiar to Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Women and Child Development had hit back at the AAP supremo. She tweeted, “Aap kya mahilaon ko itna saksham nahi samjahte ki ve swayam nirdharit kar saken kise vote dena hai? (Don’t you consider women capable enough to decide on their own whom they should vote for?)”
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) February 8, 2020
Kejriwal however doesn’t even regret his shameful, misogynist remark. He responded, “This time, it is women who have decided their family’s vote in Delhi”, in an attempt to sidestep the outrage over his anti-women tweet.
स्मृति जी, दिल्ली की महिलाओं ने किसे वोट देना है ये तय कर लिया है। और पूरी दिल्ली में इस बार अपने परिवार का वोट महिलाओं ने ही तय किया है। आखिर घर तो उन्हें ही चलाना होता है https://t.co/Psszwmmd3a
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 8, 2020
While Kejriwal’s special appeal to women to consult men before casting their ballot comes as a huge shock, such blatant misogyny is not new to the Kejriwal led AAP.
Throughout the tenure of the AAP government in Delhi, there were a number of cases and allegations of sexual harassment and other crimes against women involving AAP leaders and ministers.
Only last year, a woman in her 40s had alleged AAP MLA, Mohinder Goyal of raping her. This year AAP still gave him an election ticket from Delhi’s Rithala. What is shocking is that there was no outrage over how the AAP fielded a tainted MLA.
A woman in her 40s alleged that AAP MLA Mohinder Goyal raped her. https://t.co/fTgw0uLrC1
— The New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) March 7, 2019
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, AAP actually has a long history of such cases. Somnath Bharti, who has contested the Delhi Assembly polls from Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, was accused of domestic violence by his wife in the year 2015, though she later withdrew the case and the proceedings against him were quashed by the Delhi High Court.
But Bharti has had a troubled past. In 2015, he had said, “I am fully confident that if Delhi government is given full freedom (over security), beautiful women will be able to go out even after midnight without any fear.” His reference to “beautiful women” reeked of insensitivity towards a serious issue like offences against women.
AAP had come to power in Delhi in 2015 and only months into its tenure, its antipathy towards women was for everyone to see. Amandeep Kaur, an AAP leader at the time from Punjab had raised hue and cry over alleged sexual harassment from AAP workers. The party had however dismissed her serious allegations rather casually on the basis of “internal investigations”.
In 2017 again, three AAP MLAs, one from Tilak Nagar constituency, Jarnail Singh and two frequent troublemakers- Somnath Bharti and Amanatullah Khan faced a complaint, wherein a woman alleged them of manhandling and abusing her in the Assembly premises.
The victim lady had stated, “I had gone to see the proceedings of the House, but could not get the pass for the Visitor’s Gallery. And, while I was standing outside the building, a group of men, who were engaged in a scuffle, came towards me. They pushed and shoved me. I was later taken to a room and kicked,” in her complaint.
However, this complaint too was dismissed as “vendetta politics” by the Kejriwal led party. In fact, Kejriwal’s own approach towards such a sensitive issue of allegations against his legislators has been rather casual and insensitive.
In 2017, an AAP legislator, Dinesh Mohaniya was held on molestation charges. Instead of expressing solidarity with the victim, the AAP supremo had raised the “Emergency” bogey.
But Kejriwal’s real insensitivity towards the issue came to surface in the unfortunate case of suicide by an AAP worker. Prior to her suicide, the AAP worker had revealed that she had approached the AAP president for a action against AAP leader, Ramesh Bharadwaj whom she had accused of sexual harassment. But according to her, Kejriwal had insisted that she should strike a compromise with the AAP leader who had allegedly attempted to assault her sexually.
Today, Kejriwal denies having insisted the deceased victim to strike a deal with the man she accused of sexual molestation. Not only this, he denies even knowing the victim.
Soni Mishra was an AAP volunteer, She committed suicide after Kejriwal said "Compromise kar le" when she complaint about sexual harassment.
Now Kejriwal refuses to even recognize her. This is the price Aam Aadmi have to pay in Politics. pic.twitter.com/ttuKg3HVSO
— BALA (@erbmjha) January 29, 2020
It is not a matter of surprise in such sad state of affairs that there is no woman leader in the top echelons of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Atishi is the only visible female face in the party, but she too doesn’t enjoy a commanding position within the party.
A number of women have left the party. In 2014 itself, within months of the party’s inception, founder member, Madhu Bhaduri had dissociated herself from the party saying, “I have removed myself from the party. The party does not treat women as human beings.”
The party has always enjoyed a certain level of goodwill with the mainstream, Lutyens’ dominated elitist media. This is why such cases never occupied spotlight. The AAP was never questioned, leave alone the question of outrage over the anti-women attitude of the party. However, Kejriwal and AAP’s misogyny is for everyone to see after the former’s objectionable and reprehensible tweet about women on voting day.