The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is relying on a feisty line-up of women candidates to see it through the crucial Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls.
It has roped in at least 145 women - ranging from the politically seasoned Juhi Khan to Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal's "left-hand" Promila Gupta, to even student leaders like Hansraj College's Swati Sachdeva - to see it through the elections. The reigning party of Delhi has already released names of 261 hopefuls on the 272 MCD seats, giving it a clear head start over BJP, Congress and Swaraj India who are also fighting for share of the civic pie.
While Congress and Swaraj India are still looking for suitable faces, BJP changed the whole game for itself by declaring that it won't give tickets to any of its sitting councilors or their family members.
AAP BEGINS CAMPAIGNING
It is now scrutinising fresh applications. AAP has already begun an aggressive 'door-to-door campaign' beginning last Sunday, and elections are only a month away, scheduled for April 22. A senior AAP functionary said, "After delimitation, 136 seats out of 272 in east, north and south MCDs combined are already reserved for women. But we have given tickets to women in at least seven to eight general wards as well. We have strong women nominees who can win us seats."
WHY SO MANY WOMEN CANDIDATES?
"Besides, we feel promoting women participation is necessary as it is impossible to change society or the political system without it," she added. Juhi Khan, for example, is fighting from Sarita Vihar (Ward number 101 S, Assembly Okhla). She is famous for coming to the defense of AAP senior leader Kumar Vishwas in an "illicit affair" case. However, as an experienced political and social activist, she commands respect in her area, the party claims.
"She stopped the demolition of jhuggis of Noor Nagar because of which she is extremely popular in her area. She has also organised many camps for women safety in Jamia University and Sarita Vihar," a party leader said. Promila Gupta is a well-known councilor with Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), who has worked with its chief Swati Maliwal in rescuing minors from brothels in GB Road. She will be fighting from Timarpur (12 N) ward. She currently oversees the 181 Mahila Ayog helpline and has raided night shelters, Nari Niketan, Asha Kiran etc. in the past. Swati Sachdeva, who will contest from Model Town (77 N), is a graduate from Hansraj College. She said, "I will first ensure that Model Town is cow dung free. Inspite of being one of the most posh colonies in north Delhi, it is stinking of cow dung all the time."