Was development of disabled people a political agenda in Delhi elections? – By Tapas Bharadwaj
The Aam Aadmi Party has taken charge for the third time in Delhi with a decisive mandate in the recent Assembly elections. In this week’s guest column Tapas Bharadwaj, a visually impaired law student from the national capital, reflects on how issues relating to the disabled community need to better reflected in the agenda of political parties.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won the Delhi Assembly Elections with a decisive majority on 11 February 2020. The AAP combined the two digits in 2020 – and made it 40 with smart work, gaining 62 seats. Others could not even touch these digits.
It is not about who won or lost the elections. The question that endures to my mind is how false political parties’ claims of reaching the citizens is. Forget distribution of tickets to people with disabilities. That remains a dream yet to come true. Even if we look at election strategies of political parties, it begins with releasing accessible manifestos that help disabled people make an informed choice about whom to vote for. There was access to information in a scattered manner by various media houses. But is that sufficient? How many media houses raised the issues of disabled people?
During elections, agendas like the free electricity, free water supply, free transport, Hindustan-Pakistan, etc. were constantly raised by various political leaders. I accept that promises of free water and free electricity apply equally to all. It is also a fact that denial of accessible facilities in transport, employment, education, among others for disabled people prevails but this does not attract political leaders.
Include, don’t segregate disabled people
Increasing disability pension was one of the agendas listed in the manifesto of one political party. But we don’t want segregation when promises are implemented on the ground, rather inclusion and equality where our needs are recognised because of our diversity or disabilities.
Go beyond tokenism in accessible election exercise
I remember the constant fight with the Delhi government over the drafting of rules for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. When you don’t listen to our our voices, why should we vote? Are we to be showcased on voting day to appeal to people to come out and vote? Don’t you consider us as voters or a vote bank? Don’t you realise that when we come to vote, we make a commitment to the Constitution. Yet, you deny us our rights? Is only the Election Commission of India (ECI) and our families responsible for getting us out to vote? Also, when the ECI releases its data, why is data relating to disabled people not released suo moto when data about other vulnerable groups?
Let us think and ponder upon these issues for future elections to come so that an informed choice can be made and sensitivity of political leaders towards diverse needs can be increased.
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