Kejriwal's Stale Cabinet Shows Regressive, Chauvinistic Values

Arvind Kejriwal does not like to be criticised. He hates to be confronted. He is mostly happy in the cosy comfort of known friends or acquaintances. He is one leader who is very down-to-earth in his personal life but he can be excessively arrogant when he is faced with a contrarian viewpoint. At times, he gets passive while choosing an option or taking a decision which might impact the inner power balance of the party. The selection or "non selection" of his new cabinet speaks volume about the personality traits of the man. It's a stale cabinet, it has no new talent, it lacks vision and it promotes non-performance.

The BJP ran a spirited campaign in Delhi. It managed to increase its vote share by 6%. It undoubtedly ran a very vicious and vulgar campaign but the increase in vote share is indicative of the fact that its campaign had an impact. And it would have made AAP's life difficult if the upper caste youth in the age group of 18 to 25 and women had not voted massively for AAP. According to the post-poll survey done by the CSDS, 59% of youth in this age group voted for AAP; only 33% chose the BJP.


Arvind Kejriwal, on Sunday, took charge as the Chief Minister of Delhi for the third time and named a cabinet with minimum changes

It has been said time and again since 2014 that Modi has been the darling of the new voter, he is the biggest youth icon. Modi lured the youth in the 2014 parliamentary elections and then again in 2019. He especially targeted first-time voters. Arvind Kejriwal is also liked by new-age voters. But in these elections, if 59% voters chose AAP or preferred Kejriwal over Modi, it conveys two things - 1) The Modi magic is losing its magnetism; 2) Unemployment is a huge issue and the youth, especially the upper caste youth, is not very impressed with the Hindu agenda implemented since May 2019.

This empty space is huge. Kejriwal has enough young talent in the party. He should have given space in his cabinet to one of his young leaders and believe me there are many. Raghav Chadha could be a good choice. He is young, he is urbane. He is articulate with a sharp mind. He became the party spokesperson at a very young age and was also entrusted with the responsibility of being the national treasurer. In the past, he contributed in the preparation of the Delhi government's budget as well. So I don't see any reason why he would not perform as a minister. His induction would have certainly enthused young voters.


Raghav Chadha played a key role in the communication and outreach efforts of AAP and is also the party's in-charge of legal affairs

Women have also voted in bulk for AAP. According to the CSDS post-poll survey, 60% of women voted for AAP whereas only 35% women preferred the BJP. In contrast, men voters were almost evenly divided between AAP and BJP. The Axis My India Exit Poll also confirms this trend. According to it, if 53% men chose AAP then 59% women preferred AAP. This data underlines the fact that female voters have a special fascination for Kejriwal or AAP. 

There is no denying the fact that Kejriwal did try to woo female voters by providing free rides to women in public buses. For working, lower middle-class women this was a great relief. Now they could save more money. This was also a kind of liberation for the poor and lower middle-class women who earlier could not venture out of their homes due to lack of money. These women were dependent on the male members of their families. Now, they could take a bus and go to any place of their choice. It became easier for them to more frequently visit their relatives and friends. This was a great liberating experience for women.

But to my great surprise, Kejriwal's cabinet has no female face. All the ministers are men. It's a great injustice to half of the population of Delhi who majorly contributed to AAP's victory. I refuse to believe that AAP did not have a woman of talent worthy enough to be inducted in the cabinet. Atishi Marlena would have been an excellent choice. She is a Rhodes Scholar and instrumental in changing the face of government schools in the national capital along with Manish Sisodia. She should have surely been awarded with an independent charge of any department.


AAP's Atishi Marlena won from the Kalkaji constituency by over 11,000 votes

An all-male cabinet is not only ethically wrong but also anti-democratic. Why should men think for women? Why should an all-men's perspective rule the decision-making process of the government? At the very least, issues related to women and children require a woman's perspective. AAP's non-inclusion of women in the cabinet sends the wrong message - that they are not capable, not talented, that they can vote but they can't govern. This also reflects the male chauvinistic character of the party of the last few years. Let's not forget AAP did not have a woman face in the cabinet in its second term too (2015-2019). The first cabinet was an exception. Rakhi Bidlan was then in the cabinet.

AAP might be hailed as a secular bulwark to the communal politics of the 'new' centre but AAP's core is no longer progressive as it was expected to be. Its core values in the last few years have relatively regressed. To survive, AAP has gone back in time. 

(Ashutosh is a Delhi-based author and journalist.)

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