Lok Sabha Election 2019

Disillusioned women of Dharavi disinterested in voting

Motivating force: Varsha Gaikwad of the Congress at her office in Dharavi.

Motivating force: Varsha Gaikwad of the Congress at her office in Dharavi.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Trust in government fades as political leaders fail to deliver on promises

With the Congress launching its campaign titled, #KyaHuaTeraVaada on Wednesday at Dharavi and asking the BJP government about what happened to the promises made by it, one of the tasks it face is to motivate the women who are seemingly disillusioned with any party taking centrestage after the elections.

One of the few women working for the people of Dharavi for well over a decade, Varsha Gaikwad of the Congress, says about 20% voters are women and adds, “I always urge them to take care of their health, and do some work to earn their own money.”

While the men are working in small-scale industries like leather, garments, scrap and pottery at Dharavi, known the world over as Asia’s largest slum, the women, almost all of them who are engaged in some form of employment say that there has been no difference in their lives with the coming of any government.

A lot of women do not have voting cards as they are migrants in this megacity. Those who do, sound disappointed with the ruling dispensation. Arifa Zameen, 27, mother of a five-year-old, who works as a house help says she doesn’t care about who comes to power. “I don’t know who to vote for. BJP, Congress or Sena all seem the same to me. Honestly I don’t know really know if my vote even goes to the party I vote for. So with any party coming in, it doesn’t really matter they are all the same,” she says.

Saritha Prakash, wife of a potter, highlights the lack of amenities for health and hygiene in the area. She says, “my husband is a potter and the flames while doing pottery often causes TB (tuberculosis). My brother-in-law, also a potter, died of it. I don’t want my husband also to die. I haven’t witnessed any government providing specific health centres and routine check ups for such professional hazards.”

On the other hand, Manju Dubey, 38, has three children and runs a corner kiosk selling cigarettes. She says, “I have to pay a rent of ₹4,500 every month, my husband earns ₹ 8,000 and my kids who are studying need money too.”

She said, “I want to set up my own pani puri stall. The previous government told me, I will have to pay ₹150 for it and now today, I am told to pay even more. I know that both of them are cheating me because I should not be asked to pay so much money to run a stall above a drainage.”

A septuagenarian, Jankiben, an ardent newspaper reader who hails from Gujarat says she will not be able to vote as she doesn’t live here but says she was happy with Congress. She said, “my son lives here and had to go through a lot of hardships because of GST and demonetisation. The BJP is really doing what was once called, “garibo ko hatao, garibi nahin” (get rid of the poor, not poverty).

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 12:22:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/disillusioned-women-of-dharavi-disinterested-in-voting/article26800220.ece

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