Aam Aadmi party learns from aam mahila
This release was put out yesterday by the RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN
On the second day of the “Right to Food dharna” convened by the Right to Food Campaign, hundreds of poor women from across the country braved the morning cold and rain to assemble at Jantar Mantar and voice their concerns, including the demand for a universal PDS, universalization with quality of ICDS, universal maternity entitlements, universal pensions for single women, and crèche facilities at the workplace.
Women living in urban slums, on the streets, working on construction sites, agricultural workers, single women, women with young children from different states shared their experiences of struggle for food security and access to the Public Distribution System and other food-related programmes.
Anita from Govindpuri explained how she was struggling to survive with a disabled child, without a ration card or identity card. Everywhere she goes she is asked for a ration card, but even after ten years of living in Delhi, she is not able to get a ration card. She is unable to work for wages as she has to take care of the child and there are no child care facilities. With tears in her eyes she asked the audience, “How am I supposed to buy milk for my child, let alone pay for her medical treatment? Doesn’t my child have any rights?”
Anand from Satna explained how adivasi workers in the area struggle to get their NREGA wages from the banks. The banks are far away and the bank staff is not helpful. People have to make repeated costly trips to the banks just to get their meagre wages. Now, with UID there are likely to be further complications – they will need a UID number, internet connectivity, and all that.
At midday a panel of invited speakers addressed the audience, including Smita Gupta from CPI(M), Vandana Prasad from National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, Anuradha Talwar from the Right to Food Campaign and Yogendra Yadav from the Aam Aadmee Party.
Smita Gupta conveyed the CPI(M)’s full support for the campaign’s main demand – a comprehensive National Food Security Act. She stressed that this would have to include a universal PDS and criticised the cash transfer plan as an attempt to phase out the PDS. She also expressed her party’s opposition to cash transfers like social security pensions being linked to the UID.
Vandana Prasad expressed her full support for the campaign’s efforts. She said that despite the government’s tendency not give priority to food security issues and particularly to children’s rights, the campaign’s efforts were having an impact. These efforts need to continue, using all the opportunities available.
Yogendra Yadav began by explaining that the “Aam Aadmee Party” was not a men’s party – “aadmee” should be understood in a wider sense which includes women and children. In fact, he said that AAP was the party of the “antim insaan” (last person). He criticised the government for giving Rs 600,000 crores of tax concessions to the rich and corporates every year but refusing to spare money for the National Food Security Act. He said that AAP was opposed to BPL targeting and supported a universal PDS, and was also opposed to UID being made a condition of eligibility for any entitlements. He thanked the audience for giving the Aam Aadmee Party an opportunity to learn from the aam mahila.