On Saturday morning, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, appealed to women to vote in large numbers and to “discuss with men who it is right to vote for”.
“Vote daalne zaroor jaaiye. Sabhi mahilao se khaas appeal — jaise aap ghar ki zimmedari uthati hai, waise hi mulk aur Delhi ki zimmedari bhi aapke kandho par hai. Aap sabhi mahilaaye vote daalne zaroor jaaye aur apne ghar ke purusho ko bhi le jaaye. Purusho se charcha zaroor kare ki kise vote dena sahi rahega,” he tweeted.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani hit out at him, saying: “Don’t you consider women capable of deciding who to vote for on their own?”
However, AAP’s stance has been that the CM’s statement is based on the idea of women being more likely to support the party. “Women have, since the beginning, been the most loyal AAP supporters. We believe it is because they are the ones who manage the house budget, and they realise we have made lives easiest for them,”Atishi, who is also the AAP spokesperson, had told The Indian Express earlier.
The Indian Express spoke to women voters in different parts of Delhi about what issues they considered most important while voting. Providing free travel to women in public buses was arguably AAP’s most talked about initiative to aid women’s mobility and safety, and was mentioned by several women in different constituencies.
Saroj (45), a widow who travels every day from North East Delhi’s Seemapuri to Badarpur, bordering Faridabad, for work, said on Saturday: “I make and serve food to sahebs there. I travel by bus and it used to cost me Rs 80-90 every day, and would amount to a few thousand rupees a month. The kind of relief that the removal of bus fares has given me is huge. I can support my two children better.”
Bharti (24), a North Avenue resident, who holds a part-time job, said, “I am no fan of free bus rides as I think it should be subsidised for everyone. I do, however, appreciate the presence of bus marshals who have been deployed since 2019. They do make travelling safer.”
Chandrakanta Sharma (55), a resident of Rohini Sector 15, also spoke of women’s safety. “There is the issue of women’s safety here, and across the country. The December 16 (gangrape) convicts have not been hanged yet… Bus rides have been made free for women, which is a good step, and CCTV cameras have been installed here, which makes us feel a little secure. But those who want to commit crimes are doing it even in front of CCTVs. So there’s need for better education.”
Education was also something that women were discussing on polling day. Araish (45), a resident of Chitli Qabar in Old Delhi, was all praise for the recently renovated schools in the area. “Some of the schools have been renovated and a few new schools have also come up in the area. Classrooms are well maintained and the quality of education has improved tremendously. We are voting for improved education system in the constituency,” she said.
Among the women who voted were also those who have been protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in numerous 24×7 demonstrations across the city for several weeks. At Seelampur, women went in twos and threes to vote to ensure that the protest site did not become empty.
“I am voting for those who have worked well in the government in the last few years and given us relief by reducing our electricity and water bills. It is true that they have not stood by our protest strongly but I think the tide is in their favour, as opposed to the Congress’s,” said Dulehri (40), who is among the women who have been sitting in protest for over three weeks.
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