By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi: While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has openly spoken about women’s empowerment, this time it has once again kept women away from the Cabinet.
It may be noted, however, that there have been only four female cabinet ministers in the city since 1993.
While Delhi is among the only three states in the country, with Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, which have seen two female Chief Ministers, its score on the count for cabinet ministers remained low.
The four cabinet ministers in Delhi were — BJP’s Purnima Sethi (1998), the Congress party’s Krishna Tirath (1998-2001) and Kiran Walia (2008-13) and AAP’s Rakhi Birla (2013-14).
Of these, only Walia has completed her term in office, while the other three were cabinet ministers for a short period.
Among the top three political parties in Delhi — AAP, BJP and the Congress — the Congress has given the maximum women cabinet ministers and also a female Chief Minister for the longest term.
On Sunday, while Kejriwal broke the late Sheila Dikshit’s record by swearing-in for the third time as the Chief Minister, Dikshit continues to be the longest-serving Chief Minister of Delhi across gender.
The capital has seen a total of seven Assembly elections, including the recently concluded polls. However, despite being the national capital, the representation of women has remained low in the city politics.
While AAP has been vocal about women, their contribution to society and about their security, out of the three Arvind Kejriwal cabinets, including that which took oath on Sunday, only one AAP female MLA has made it to the government.
AAP’s Rakhi Birla was the cabinet Minister for Women and Child, Social Welfare and Languages between December 28, 2013, and February 14, 2014, in Kejirwal’s first cabinet during its 49-day term.
The representation of women is low not only in the state cabinet, but is also low in the Delhi Assembly. A total of 39 females have been elected to the Delhi Assembly between the first election in 1993 and the just concluded 2020 polls, with the highest number of 20 MLAs coming from the Congress.
While in the first and second assemblies, in 1993 and 1998, respectively, the BJP has given one female in each term to the House, no other BJP female candidate has ever been elected to the House after that.
Between 1993 and 2020, of the 39 females elected to the House, 20 females were from the Congress, 17 from the AAP and two from the BJP.
Not just the Assembly, in the Lok Sabha too, women representation from Delhi has been low, with eight of the 17 Lok Sabha elections electing only one female MP from the city’s seven parliamentary constituencies.
From the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, this has been the pattern, with one female MP elected in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.
The city did not elect any female candidate six times, and has thrice elected more than one woman candidate. Two female MPs were elected from Delhi each time, in the fifth (1971), 11th (1996) and the 12th (1988) Lok Sabhas.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])