The position of a woman spokesperson in Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is highly precarious despite the strong national visibility it provides.
It may look coincidental, but the incident of MLA Alka Lamba losing her job as party spokesperson is not the first of its kind in AAP. Prior to this, there were two others — Shazia Ilmi and Atishi Marlena — who were media favourties and had a similar fate.
The reasons might be different, but the final result is same for all the spokespersons, especially the women members who face the wrath of AAP’s top leadership.
Lamba faced the music for apparently goofing up a statement on Gopal Rai’s stepping down from the post of transport minister.
Much before Lamba, it was Shazia Ilmi — AAP’s former national executive member, now with the BJP — who was the first spokesperson of the party. It was in the formative days of the party and she was the only woman voice of the party on prime time panel discussions of news channels. Ilmi became the second best known face of AAP after Kejriwal with whom she had worked closely since the Jan Lokpal agitation days. But she gradually disappeared too, only to be replaced by her male counterparts. Finally, she resigned in May 2014 alleging ‘absence of internal democracy’.”There is no space for women at the top level of the decision-making process within the party, which is in fact controlled by a select few male members,” Ilmi had told this correspondent after her resignation in an exclusive interview with Firstpost.
After throwing out Yogendra Yadav as the chief spokesperson, the party constituted a team of 21 spokespersons in April 2015. A conspicuous absence from the new team was Marlena, the party’s best known female spokesperson on television after Shazia Ilmi. Marlena had replaced Ilmi after the latter’s exit from AAP.
She had to lose her job as party spokesperson in 2015. Her sacking from the post was linked to her closeness to the Yadav-Bhushan camp, which somehow got revealed through a letter.
Those who claim to be closely related to the party, including its former members, claim that there’s no space for women in any important position in the organisation at the top.
During its formative period, the AAP had emphasised on giving power to women members in the party in a democratic manner. But later-on during elections, the party witnessed a major discontent amongst the latter, leading to the exit of prominent faces like Ilmi and Madhu Bhaduri among others.
After her exit from the party, former National Executive member of AAP and a retired diplomat, Madhu Bhaduri had told this correspondent, “About how the AAP treats its women members, and as far as I am concerned the Party made sure that I was denied the right of a member of the National Council of AAP to move a resolution in the meeting of the council and was actually heckled and forced out of the hall.”
Bhaduri had objected to former minister Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid against Ugandan women at Khirki extension in New Delhi and tried to raise the issue in party’s meeting.
The space that was occupied by Shazia, Arishi and Alka is again vacant. So who’s next?
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