iconimg Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Anil Kumar, Hindustan Times
Patna, March 09, 2014
Bihar, in 2006-07, became the first state in the country to empower the 'fair sex' by reserving 50% posts for women in panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies.
Yet, eight years on, no mainline party in Bihar appears interested in giving even 33% representation to women in the selection of their nominees for the ensuing Lok Sabha poll.

Coming close to the 'ideal' is the Congress, which has named three women nominees among the 10 (30%) it has announced so far, out of its share of 11 out 40 Bihar seats it is contesting in alliance with the RJD.

Apart from naming sitting MP and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar for Sasaram, the party has named Ranjeet Ranjan, wife of former MP Rajesh Ranjan aka Pappu Yadav, for the Supaul seat in north Bihar.

Ranjeet, who polled 1.47 lakh votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll and stood second behind the winner, Vishwa Mohan Kumar of the JD (U), is perceived to be a strong candidate for the seat.

The third woman nominee fielded by the Congress is Pratima Kumari for the Hajipur seat. Not very well known even in the Congress circles, Kumari will take on LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan.

The Lalu Prasad-led RJD has put up five women nominees out of 25 seats for which it has declared its candidates, adding up to 20% of the total so far.

On the RJD list is former chief minister Rabri Devi, standing up for her husband Lalu Prasad, who was unseated from Saran in north Bihar, following his conviction in a fodder scam case.

Also on the RJD list are Lalu's daughter Misa Bharti (Patliputra), former union minister Kanti Singh (Karakat), incarcerated former MP Mohammad Shahabuddin's wife Heena Sahab (Siwan) and Krishna Kumari Yadav (Khagaria).

While the lists of party candidates of the ruling JD (U) and BJP are still awaited, they already look set to fall short of the 33% benchmark for weightage to women.

The JD (U), which is contesting 38 out of 40 Bihar seats, leaving two to the CPI, may field, at best, five women nominees.

Party sources said its two sitting MPs, Ashwamedh Devi (Ujiarpur) and Meena Singh (Ara) were likely to be renominated.

In addition, the JD (U) was likely to field Shanti Sharma, wife of unseated MP (following his conviction in a fodder scam case) Jagdish Sharma, in Jehanabad.

Other female names doing the rounds as possible JD (U) candidates included those of Lalganj MLA Annu Shukla, who has announced her candidature for the Vaishali seat, unilaterally and Dhamdaha MLA Lesi Singh (Purnia).

The BJP looks set to add the name of Putul Kumari (Banka) to its sitting woman MP Rama Devi in Sheohar (north Bihar). Putul, wife of former union minister Digvijay Singh, was elected as an independent in 2009 but joined the BJP recently.

The LJP is fielding Veena Devi, wife of former MP Surajbhan Singh, in Munger as its lone female candidate in the seven seats its is contesting in alliance with the BJP.

Congress legislator Jyoti was critical of "lack of commitment" on the part of political parties towards adequate reservation for women in selection of nominees.

"All of them speak in favour of empowering women, but none of them means it," she said.