Pre-poll sop or bid for women safety?: Twitterati divided on AAP free bus, metro promise
The Arvind Kejriwal government's announcement to provide free rides on Delhi metro and DTC buses for women to improve women safety is being seen as an election gimmick by many
- Published 4.06.19, 9:08 PM
- Updated 4.06.19, 9:08 PM
- 2 mins read
Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) proposal to make DTC bus and metro rides free for women has become a talking point on social media. Within hours of the Delhi government announcement, women from across professions took to Twitter to laud the decision.
Over the past years, Delhi has not been able to shake off the epithet of ‘rape capital’ that it has earned in the face of the sordid record of gender crimes in the city. Its reputation has reached a nadir, leading many women to seriously think twice about moving to the city, even when faced with an opportunity. The sorry state of women safety in the capital had triggered the nation’s anger particularly in the aftermath of the horrific Nirbhaya gang rape case. The incident took place in a moving private bus on December 16, 2012.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, Delhi reported the highest crime rate at 184.3 compared to 56.3 at all India level, followed by Assam, Telangana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Haryana and West Bengal in 2015.
Karuna Nundy, an advocate with the Supreme Court said the initiative will encourage women to travel to work.
Freedom for women to work in far flung areas, get there safely, spend leisure time in this beautiful city, will not only increase per capita income dramatically over time, it's an issue of basic rights. Brilliant move. #Metro #DelhiMetro #FreedomnotProtection https://t.co/HoKxrx8yYt— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) June 3, 2019
A woman entrepreneur seconded her.
Not too sure about #DelhiMetro but it's a great move to make bus rides free for women. This would encourage more women to travel by buses making them safe. Delhi Metro is anyway quite safe so don't think it's a good idea to make them free. @ArvindKejriwal— Vishakha (@vishakhatalreja) June 3, 2019
Welcoming the move, renowned women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan went on to demand a public transport cess on the top income brackets.
Some of the reasons why the Delhi Govt move to offer free transport to women is welcome, but also some additional demands we need to hold the Delhi & Central Govts accountable to. + A proposal for a public transport cess on the top income brackets, to make Delhi air clean for all pic.twitter.com/zAENHevjgc— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) June 4, 2019
However, there are many who believe that a lot more needs to be done to improve the situation of women safety in the society here. Some have even gone to the extent of writing off the proposed scheme claiming the tone of the decision reflects that women are not equally qualified as men.
Activist Japleen Pasricha suggested other measures to be taken by the government to ensure women’s safety.
Instead, they must focus on last mile connectivity & increase their timings at night. I have to take a cab even though it's much more expensive than the metro because the metro closes at 11.30 and it does not reach my home. I still have to take a rickshaw like many others. 5/n— Japleen Pasricha (@japna_p) June 3, 2019
A mother-daughter duo who use the metro frequently say they would prefer paying for their tickets since they can afford it.
Wow Kejriwal Ji! What a move.— Prerna Bhardwaj (@prernabhardwaj_) June 3, 2019
Is this the reaction you expect from Women in Delhi?
Sorry to disappoint you but please take a note,we don’t sell our votes for free metro and bus rides.
On the other hand, a number of Delhi men seemed furious and sought explanation on “why financially equipped women are eligible for such subsidies in the name of women safety.” They lashed out on Twitter with memes and jokes.
So commute via Delhi Metro and DTC buses might become free for women. Why not the same for men ? Where's the equality in this ? And how is waving public transport fee "empowering"? #Mentoo— Tanmay Bhatnagar (@_dat1_guy) June 2, 2019
With the chief minister making the declaration less than a year ahead of Delhi Assembly elections, the move in sync with the party’s promise to ensure women safety, is being suspected as merely a gimmick to gain the women votebank by many. Even political cartoons taking a dig at Kejriwal’s announcement for free rides have been doing the rounds.
3000 crore statue?— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRai) June 4, 2019
5000 crore on Modi's publicity ?
- Necessary and good step.
6000 per year to farmers?
- Pro farmer Govt. What a decision.
Voluntary Free metro ride for woman ?
- Freebies bant raha hai ,Delhi will become Venezuela. Shame on Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, male celebrities like Pritish Nandy stood in support of the government’s decision and wrote to Kejriwal.
Women in Delhi will get a free ride on buses and the metro. What a wonderful idea @ArvindKejriwal ! Will Mumbai emulate this? All the trouble we are going through for the construction of the metro will then be worth it.— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) June 3, 2019
Political commentator Dhruv Rathee went on to cite the example of a similar scheme in France to make public transport free to encourage the state government move.
This decision in Dunkirk (France) was a massive success, many other French and German cities have been wanting to adopt this also.— Dhruv Rathee (@dhruv_rathee) June 3, 2019
The revenue was compensated by introducing a transport tax of 1.5% on companies with more than 11 employees.https://t.co/JZUISY1EEp
In the aftermath of the declaration, it has been reported that the state government can’t afford the subsidies on metro fares.
Lakhs of working-class poor in Delhi have been pushed out of #DelhiMetro by insensitive price hikes by the DMRC. When Kejriwal government opposed this, central government told him he could subsidise the tickets if he wants. Delhi state govt obviously can't afford to do this.— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) June 3, 2019
Amid all the counter views on this policy said to strengthen women’s cause, Jasmine Shah, the vice chairperson of Delhi government’s Dialogue and Development Commission regarded the debate itself as progressive.
Great to see a real debate on a real issue affecting the safety and mobility of women in this country. On behalf of Delhi govt, @DDC_Delhi is collating all comments/suggestions for effective implementation of this policy. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org#DelhiMetro https://t.co/C3X273OfYD— Jasmine Shah (@Jasmine441) June 3, 2019