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2

Dear Meritorious Chief Minister,

Congratulations on the sweeping win of Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly elections. As someone cheering the rise of the promise of more inclusive democracy in India, I have been following the story of Aam Aadmi Party since the beginning.

Yesterday should have been a day of celebration. It was not. The reason is your all male cabinet. Worse, for all your claims of listening to the people and being accountable, there has not been so much as a whisper of explanation for excluding women from the seat of power in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party that bragged about the quality of its women candidates is apparently at a loss to find a single one worthy of the cabinet.

In your speeches, you admitted to arrogance of victory in Delhi leading to the defeat in the Lok Sabha Elections. This time after warning followers, your arrogance in Delhi will lead to the defeat of 46% of those who supported you, while you cannot be shaken from your position for the next five years.

Because it is arrogance that decides that you will deliver women safety, yet sees no need to include women in the cabinet. Women are more impacted than men by issues related to water, education, health or inflation, as those tasked with the functioning of the household in limited resources in the vast majority of Indian society. It is women who ferry water the most, make compromises in nutrition to be able to afford food daily, care for the ill and as the ones giving birth to babies and caring in their early years are also a large segment of healthcare consumers in addition to routine health issues common to all. It is women who face greater resistance to ambitions in education. It is women who face catcalls and gangrapes and sexual harassment far more than men.

Being a woman in India is a different view of the world than being a man in India. No matter how sensitive or capable a cabinet minister, I doubt if he will THINK like a woman.  The idea that a woman's thinking does not need to be present at all in the highest decision making body for the state is misogyny. In all your grandeur, you may imagine that men are more efficient and deliver best, but the fact is that many women not from the upper classes cannot speak freely to men. In all your wisdom, you may believe that it is not important for the Minister for women and children - who would be the one meeting victims of brutal rapes once this intoxication with your own yet-to-be proven competence dies down. I doubt a victim sees it the same way. Or is the plan to speak with doctors and male members of the family instead of the women or conveniently use some woman MLA without authority for the purpose?

I don't doubt that a man handling the wellbeing of women and children is a refreshing deviation from the norm, but the need for PR stunts is over. Does a cabinet that cannot even see competence in women in understanding issues of women better than men respectfully handle the difficulties of women? I don't think so.

So far, it seems AAP is happy to use women volunteers to work. Will use a few women candidates to stop looking like cavemen, use their eloquence as spokes people and high profile campaigners but when it comes to nurturing women or recognizing their competence or being willing to share in POWER, AAP so far seems to have come up with a big fat zero.

From seven candidates in the previous election to six in this election. From one woman to none. Your party has consistently claimed to plan to empower women, but in this one year what we see is a deterioration. Not just a failure of Aam Aadmi Party to put up women candidates in any proportion vaguely corresponding to that mythical representation, or decreasing numbers in the tiny number offered.

A woman MLA who joined AAP in its darkest hours, stayed loyal, worked her ass off for the party, including being one of the strong pillars for your own efforts in Varanasi, has experience being on the women's commission, IS a woman herself is apparently not "competent" enough to be on a cabinet where a male lawyer handles the portfolio for women and children. And I am sure the other women candidates have competencies too. You don't get to be a good councillor without being able to handle authority or work. Two of AAP's women MLAs have been councillors. One of AAP's woman MLA's is an ex-cabinet minister in the previous AAP cabinet.

Here is a quote from your party website, since a sub-category of your supporters no longer seem to think I am in Indian interest:

"We believe that until the Women’s Reservation Bill is passed by Parliament, there is a lot that political parties can do to ensure proportional representation for women. "

http://www.aamaadmiparty.org/womens-day

Here I am, getting organized "blocking" of my handle by your supporters on Twitter, for upholding the views of YOUR party that you seem to have forgotten. Or was that an election Jumla?

There is a Muslim and a dalit in your cabinet and rightly so. I don't imagine this is an accident given that several other favorites are not on the cabinet, so I assume it is okay to take the representation of women for granted, while other kinds of representation are still respected.

Worse, you or your spokesperson don't even think this important enough to address openly and with your much advertised accountability. Not before the cabinet swearing in, not after. It is not like you are unaware when you retweet an absurd tweet by Javed Jafferi about Bandana Kumari being a Deputy Speaker as though that should be enough. What power does a deputy speaker have to govern?

In essence, in your ARROGANCE you are saying that men will deliver women's needs and women are not competent enough to do it. Let alone governing other aspects of the state. This is classic patriarchy and gives rise to the question, "Changing politics, yes, but for better or worse?"

If Hindus ruling a secular state is right wing supremacy, how is men ruling a supposedly gender respecting state anything but MALE SUPREMACY?

I also suggest that when AAP campaigns in the future, bragging about its women candidates, it discloses whether the candidates are good enough to be trusted in the cabinet, or just fillers for your statistics on women representation. This is important, because if your women candidates are not competent, then why should the constituencies you conned into voting for them suffer from their "incompetence" while you protect your government and reputation from it? Hain na?

Think about it. It is the start of your government and you have begun it with a grave wrong to gender equality. This will not go unnoticed. Not by citizens, not by AAP's political opponents. While nothing can force you to give this represenatation to Delhi's women for the next five years if you decide against it, it will be a blow to the Aam Aadmi Party itself in other places too.

A blogger who had great hope in AAP and is now worried about AAP being a problem to women's rights.

Vidyut

8

The last few days have been tough for the Aam Aadmi Party. It does not help that their icon, Arvind Kejriwal has gone completely missing after the result, leaving the party to cope and unsure of what to do with their disappointment, commitment or need for direction. It seems many need a new motivation, to launch into the Delhi campaign, if nothing else. To restore a sense of normalcy with Kejriwal's words pointing the way as usual.

Some volunteers are seeing the need for accountability and a reorganization. Others are seeing it as an attack on what AAP stands for at a time when they are vulnerable. The leaders have nothing to say. In this vacuum, I am noticing the growth of what I call the "No true AAPsman" argument, which I believe is part of the problems faced by the party and prevents an honest dialogue. It isn't all that different from BJP's "No true Patriot" "no true Indian" or "no true Hindu" argument.

For me, personally, I did face a completely unexpected backlash where I was accused of being a hypocrite or traitor for criticizing the party or not continuing with a support that was always intended for the election and not permanent. No use explaining that I don't see politics as something limited to parties, or that I don't have time to commit to a party or that I have political objectives that AAP doesn't meet.

The idea that every person who supports AAP cares for a better India and every person who stops supporting is a traitor is absurd at best. Not all of us have outsourced our integrity to a party or person. I am perfectly capable of enacting my own integrity and having my own goals.

Do I believe Jan Lokpal is important? Not particularly. It is a good idea and worth implementing, but certainly not enough to transform politics or to end a government if it doesn't happen. The same for the Swaraj Bill. There are things I find completely useless and counterproductive to the goals of transforming politics. Resignations, ultimatums, gambles from vulnerable positions, big talk that will backfire on the party if expected results don't happen, not affiliating with parties, lack of broader policies, and more. And I completely detest that AAP often does not walk its talk and takes refuge in the excuse of being a new party or worse, turns into a moral peacock and judges others inferior for not admiring them.

I am a firm believer in strategy. I believe cunning is important in an uneven fight. Obeying the laws is must, but showcasing a tough road deliberately chosen over an easier one as a statement of moral superiority at the cost of failing or delaying the goal is too egotistic for me. For me the goal is my duty, not how I am seen making it happen. Who doesn't like to slay demons wearing high heels and looking ready for a photo shoot at the end of it? But in reality it is messy. Killing the demon has to be more important than looking good at the end of the day. For me, I am not the point. For AAP, it is different. Being seen doing it correctly is important too. I can accept the difference in priorities. I also accept that I don't have the responsibility to be a role model and have the luxury of chasing goals catering to nothing but my conscience and estimations in the moment. Neither is right or wrong, this quest will take all kinds of efforts in all kinds of directions.

I don't think this in any way means I am not interested in the well being of the country!

At one time, AAP saw enough urgency to risk several seats to challenge leaders of big parties. Now it is complacent if urgent actions are recommended for a tough election staring in the face "it will take time" "long fight" etc. AAP made grand speeches about the high command culture. Yet every person to leave AAP and many who support AAP agree that Kejriwal is the one person without whose approval nothing happens. During campaign, AAP supporters were going around begging prominent people to support AAP. Now they are saying who doesn't support can get lost. Season for requesting is apparently over. Will remember next election campaign time. Like true netas.

I put differences aside to support because I thought AAP deserved a chance even if their idea and method was different from mine. I still do. And I had made it clear all through that the support was in terms of a pro-AAP voice online till the elections, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I am not a real supporter? Of course I am not a real supporter, but AAP didn't mind till last week. That does not mean that I am a fake now.

More than me, people who have committed money, support and often put their lives on the line and continue to raise voice if they think things are going wrong - they deserve better, not to be judged as lacking in integrity if not accepting of endless mistakes without complaint. Often the highest form of support is one that courts unpopularity to raise alarm to prevent costly mistakes.

Ilyas Azmi's criticism was ridiculed as him "doing a Binny". This man is on AAP's PAC. He is bringing up a valid question asking why he, as a two time MP and core member of AAP was denied a ticket when Javed Jafferi could get it. It is a valid question that deserves transparent reasons and answers. Where has AAP's candidate selection process gone? Surely AAP supporters aren't thinking that AAP is so powerful that they don't need candidates with concrete public support that got them elected to the Parliament twice? And yet, he isn't quitting the party. Even as he states that the PAC was largely "rubber stamp" and it was Arvind Kejriwal's word that made policies, he remains committed to AAP which is wasting his experience. Instead of this being valued as a point to improve, he's being ridiculed for wanting a ticket. "If he was a true AAP person, he wouldn't want a ticket." So why is this logic not extended to Kejriwal or Yadav or any of the 433 something candidates? I assume all of them wanted to contest elections or they would never accept the tickets?

Moral grandstanding that refuses honest answers to another is prejudice. The unsaid ugly here is that Kejriwal is everything and whoever questions this is inferior.

So let me get this right. A person may get sunburned campaigning day after day for free - even on their own funds, but if they decide that it didn't work, then it is THEY who are at fault. Even if Kejriwal didn't so much as tweet a thank you after the result for the work they put in for HIS seat.

Then there will be no end to the "no true AAPsman" logic. No true AAPsman would eat bananas. But you do. That means you aren't a real AAPsman. No true AAPsman would donate their three months to work. Minimum membership is lifetime, so if you are losing interest, means you were always fake. What next? No true AAPsman would donate only once and if you don't donate every month you are a fake?

Here is a counter question. I believe in transparent government. I believe in accountability. I believe that existing parties are cartels for the most part. And I believe that AAP is not going to break the cartels because it will get sabotaged, and it will complain about sabotage instead of fighting it. Does this mean that I lost interest in honesty and transparency, or I lost trust in AAP's ability to deliver it and am seeking better investment for my efforts in the interests of good governance to actually happen instead of sitting around patiently admiring morals while the Adani-Ambani sponsored government rules?

PS: For those of you who are saying that I did not give my feedback when it would be useful "instead of now", I would advise you to read this feedback made within hours of Kejriwal's Varanasi speech where he asks people if he should contest from Varanasi. You may search for "Aam Aadmi Party" and "suggestions" or "feedback" on this blog.