Set to be sworn in as RS MP, Swati Maliwal says ‘not scared to question govt or go to jail for it’

If you question the Government, either you are suspended or FIRs are registered against you or investigative agencies are sent after you, says AAP’s Swati Maliwal, who is set to take oath as a Rajya Sabha MP

January 31, 2024 10:33 am | Updated 11:28 am IST

AAP candidate Swati Maliwal shows a victory sign after she was elected unopposed as the Rajya Sabha MP, in New Delhi on January 12, 2024.

AAP candidate Swati Maliwal shows a victory sign after she was elected unopposed as the Rajya Sabha MP, in New Delhi on January 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

New Delhi

As Swati Maliwal becomes the latest AAP Rajya Sabha MP amid Opposition leaders’ allegations of a “witch hunt” against them, the former DCW chief said her family is scared about her foray into active politics, but she asserted that she is not scared to question the Government or go to the jail for it.

In an interview with PTI at her residence, Ms. Maliwal, who is set to take oath as MP on January 31 , said the moment when formally assumes office will be the "most profound" and "important" occasion of her life.

"I am very excited. As a first-time MP, I have a huge responsibility. I feel that I have always been an activist, and will continue to remain one. I will raise grassroots issues and I am looking forward to it," she told PTI, a day before she is to take oath.

Ms. Maliwal said she is proud of what she has accomplished so far – from her beginnings as the youngest core committee member of the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement – to becoming the chief of the Delhi Commission For Women (DCW) and now a Rajya Sabha MP.

"My journey makes me feel that there is a God and I have always been protected. I had never thought that I would reach the Rajya Sabha. It was not my aim or ambition,” she said. "I feel that it will be the most profound and important moment of my life. After that every waking moment of my life will be dedicated to the service of this nation," she stressed.

Top priorities

Ms. Maliwal said since she has been an activist, she will continue to raise the issue of women’s safety and their participation in the workforce as an MP.

Also Read | As Maliwal bids adieu, DCW highlights her extensive tenure

"My first question is why 51 FIRs are registered every hour over crimes against women. An eight-month-old girl is raped in Delhi and even an 85-year-old woman,” she said, adding that punishments for such acts should be done systematically.

“Why is Brij Bhushan still in Parliament? Why were Bilkis Bano’s rapists freed?... Why do women form only 23 per cent of the workforce? Raising these questions will be my priority,” she said.

Ms. Maliwal added that she will also raise questions on unemployment and price rise in Parliament.

Budget expectations

The budget session of Parliament will commence on Wednesday and end on February 9. It will be a short session this time, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman set to table the Interim Budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The new government will present a full-fledged budget.

On her expectations from this year’s Budget, Ms. Maliwal said she hoped that it would have something for women, farmers, labourers.

Even though women comprise 50 per cent of the population, the “gender budget” is five per cent of the budget, she said. "Why these oft-repeated Beti Bachao Beti Padhao slogans?” she asked.

Also Read | Budget Session Live updates Day 1

Ms. Maliwal said the resources of the Police have to be increased and asked why only 11.75 per cent of women are part of the Delhi Police. “With such low numbers, how will gender sensitivity come?” she asked.

She said she would also call for forensic science laboratories to be set up in every State and a fast-track court in every district.

Maliwal’s tenure as the MP has come at a time amid opposition leaders’ allegations that they are not allowed to raise issues in Parliament. "I feel that Parliament is the most sacred place in a democracy and every MP has a responsibility to hold the Government accountable. In the last Parliament session, 146 MPs were suspended. Who will ask questions?” she said.

Asserting that the country’s democracy was in danger, Ms. Maliwal said, “If you question the Government, either you are suspended or FIRs are registered against you or investigative agencies are sent after you.”

She said that she is going to Parliament as a representative of women. "I feel that if a woman takes a resolve she can bring far-reaching changes. I am not going to Parliament alone. In a way, every woman is reaching Parliament through me. I appeal to women to guide me," she said.

“Witch hunt” against leaders

The Aam Aadmi Party has alleged that the party's leaders are facing a “witch hunt” for raising their voices against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Ms. Maliwal said her family is "quite worried" about the current scenario. "I understand their concerns. I have faced rape threats before, had my house attacked. I am the youngest women's panel commissioner. I have had criminal cases against me and I have been fighting them in the courts," she said.

She said that she has got a chance to serve people and she will do it with utmost honesty. "I am not scared. At the most, they will put me in jail. I am not scared of dying or threats. I will continue fighting till I die," she added.

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