Delhi Election 2020: Atishi, an Oxford graduate and Rhodes scholar is drawing up AAP’s agenda in the national capital

  • The Aam Aadmi Party’s Atishi is expected to prepare the party’s election manifesto before January 20 while the election is scheduled on February 8.
  • Atishi, as the advisor to Delhi’s education minister Manish Sisodia until last year, played a key role in revamping the state’s education system.
  • Education reforms like cracking down on fee hikes in private schools, separate school management committees, and introduction of ‘Happiness curriculum’ to nurture students and instill moral values, remain the party’s top-selling points in this election.
  • The 38-year-old is the only woman in AAP’s political affairs committee.
Oxford graduate-turned-activist Atishi had to give up her last name ‘Marlena’ ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections as rivals portrayed her as Jew. It was a rare act of backing down in the face of political pressure in India but she was new to politics.

As her party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by incumbent Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal prepares for the next election on February 8, Atishi is in charge of drawing up the manifesto.

The educationist and activist, is also the only woman in the party’s political affairs committee.

Since the AAP won assembly elections in 2015, Atishi has been working towards the policy research for the party’s election manifesto. She also contested for the parliamentary seat from the East-Delhi constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but lost to cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir from the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

But when Kejriwal goes asking for votes, her contribution will be his best selling point.

This is what makes Atishi, a political rookie, an important part of AAP

Atishi was the advisor to Delhi’s education minister Manish Sisodia until last year — when the Ministry of Home Affairs terminated her position saying that her appointment wasn’t passed by the national government.

In the last five years, the party allocated the biggest chunk of its budget for education each year since it came to power in 2015. Sisodia said, 8,000 new classrooms were built to overcome the infrastructure shortage in the state-run schools.

She reportedly pushed for parent teacher meetings across all government schools for the first time in Delhi. Her education reforms and initiatives include cracking down on fee hikes in private schools, separate school management committees and introduction of ‘ Happiness curriculum’ to nurture students and instill moral values.

The state government schools also posted better results. The pass percentage increased by nearly 3% — touching 91% in 2018. While the private schools recorded slightly less at 88.3%.

Atishi, an activist first

Atishi, who is a former Delhi University topper and graduate from University of Oxford and a Rhodes scholar has contributed many years to social work in rural parts of the world. She worked in the villages of Madhya Pradesh on school education and organic farming along with her husband.

She forayed into politics during 2013 assembly elections in Delhi and, eventually, turned into a key member of the political affairs committee of the AAP. The 38-year-old is AAP’s only female candidate in Delhi, and the only woman in its political affairs committee.

She may be relatively new to politics but has strong political views including the recent Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Parliament at the behest of rival BJP.

“The fact is, all of them ––Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists –– need jobs. Everyone needs an income. If there is scarcity of resources, how will you provide for migrants, even if they have been part of your ideological plan? Till 10 days ago, everyone was talking about the economy. But now, the only thing on people’s minds is CAA and that in itself tells you why this was brought about,” Atishi said on the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) development.

See also:
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal⁠— the man with a knack for Carpe Diem

Delhi Election 2020: Gautam Gambhir, MP, cricketer and commentator, will have a lot of say during Delhi’s upcoming assembly elections

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