Women of Delhi are concerned about their security first as it is reportedly one of the most unsafe city for them. Therefore, social media, particularly Twitter is abuzz with discussions of the security of women and the feasibility of the scheme like free rides for women in public transport, including buses and Delhi Metro. The city was branded as the nation’s rape capital in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape in December 2012. According to Delhi Police’s recent report, despite the nominal decrease, the reported number of rape cases remains high in Delhi. It is really a matter of concern for all.
Priyanka Chaturvedi, deputy leader of Shiv Sena raised this issue just after the announcement by the Delhi government. She began a discussion over this.Chaturvedi tweeted, “Hate to remind this, but Nirbhaya was gang raped in a bus in Delhi. At that time, the country didn’t protest over free rides for the women but for making the capital safe for its women to be able to take a bus or metro at any time of the day. Get your priorities right!” After this tweet, over 5,000 people expressed their unhappiness with Kejriwal’s free rides for women. They asked the Chief Minister of Delhi to ensure the safety of women first.
Hate to remind this, but Nirbhaya was gang raped in a bus in Delhi. At that time the country didn’t protest over free rides for the women but for making the capital safe for its women to be able to take a bus or metro at any time of the day. Get your priorities right!
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) June 3, 2019
Monika Pant, Delhi BJP Vice President said, “With an eye on Delhi Assembly elections next year, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced the free ride scheme for women. Without proper planning, no scheme will be successful. Therefore, this scheme will fail completely as there is no provision of the security for women by the Delhi government. In last assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party promised in its manifesto to install CCTV cameras in the state to ensure the security of women. But a single camera is not installed so far. Kejriwal is befooling people. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, voters of Delhi rejected Aam Aadmi Party. That is why CM Kejriwal has announced this scheme.”
As per sources, over 20 lakh women travel every day in Delhi. They spend over Rs 4 crore on public transport daily. 7.5 lakh women travel by metro, while 12.6 lakh others travel by DTC bus. They spend Rs 3 crore on the metro fare and Rs 1.3 crore on bus fare.
On the other hand, a Aam Aadmi party worker said, ”There are some problems in implementing free rides for women in Delhi Metro but we will materialise it in DTC. We are 50 per cent shareholders in Metro. We are exploring the ways to bring Metro under this scheme. As far as, the security of women is concerned, the Delhi government is installing CCTV cameras on various locations in Delhi. This work got delayed because Delhi is not a full-fledged state and we have to take approval on different stages.”
It is worth mentioning that Kejriwal announced on Monday that Delhi women will soon be able to travel free of cost on all public transport. This is yet to get a green signal from the centre. This scheme will cost Rs 700-800 crore yearly. However, Kejriwal mentioned that those do not want the benefits of this offer, they would be free to buy the tickets. He said, “I have given one-week time to officials to make a detailed proposal for both DTC and Metro, on how and when can this be implemented. We are making an effort to start this within 2-3 months.” Aam Aadmi Party came to power in 2015 by winning 67 seats of 70 assembly constituencies.
Social Worker Sanjeev Sane said, “Free ride for women in Delhi is an election Jumla by CM Arvind Kejriwal ahead of the state assembly elections. How can he implement it in private buses? On the security of women, they may say that police are not under them. So, they are not responsible for it.”
According to political experts, the race for Delhi assembly election has begun. Kejriwal made the first move announcing free rides for women. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Narendra Modi government was voted back to power with a bigger majority. Experts have credited Modi government’s schemes like Ujjwala Yojana for free LPG connection and household toilet scheme under the Swachh Bharat Mission. These two schemes combined with Jan Dhan Yojana are said to have created a silent vote bank for Narendra Modi among women. A study indicates that the BJP’s popularity among women voters has increased by seven percentage points in 2019 Lok Sabha.
There are about 64.42 lakh women out of 1.41 crore voters in Delhi. In the general elections, 60.15 per cent women voters casted their vote compared to 60.82 per cent men voters. Increasing participation of women voters seems to have set off a competition among the political parties for their support. After the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party is looking to woo the women voters.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party slammed the freebies given by the AAP. The BJP said that the scheme had been announced to dupe the voters. Manoj Tiwari, President of BJP Delhi unit said, “Aam Aadmi Party is in panic after losing the Lok Sabha elections.”
By Rajesh Kumar Choudhary & Moumita Mukherjee