“Ek naari, sab pe bhaari (one woman is good enough to take on everybody else)” Soma Desai, a woman candidate from Ghaziabad assembly seat, said at the district election office where she came to file her nomination papers on Monday. Desai is one of the several women candidates who arrived to file nominations despite most major political parties not offering tickets to women in the district.
“Women face a lot of exploitation when they come to get tickets. The bigger candidates, generally men, don’t allow us to come forward, especially if we don’t belong to a political family or have a rich background. Men just give outsiders a feeling that
they consider women equal, but that is just for show in politics,” she said.
Desai filed her nomination papers from the lesser known Rashtriya Krantikari Samajwadi Party. Like her, advocate Kiran Sharma also came to the election office in Ghaziabad on Monday to file her nomination from a new party, ‘Sarv Sambhav Party,’ floated by Bollywood actor Rajpal Yadav.
“Women are not given their due when it comes to politics. So they have to stand as independents or try to choose some local parties to contest. Still, I am contesting and will try to change the scenario,” said Sharma.
In Ghaziabad this time, only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded a woman candidate, Dr Manju Shivach, from Modi Nagar seat. However, the BJP has sidelined Noida’s sitting MLA Vimla Batham and offered the candidature to Pankaj Singh, the eldest son of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. He is also the BJP general secretary from Uttar Pradesh.
Tickets from other major parties in the district such as the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have also gone to men. In 2012, all five assembly seats in the district were bagged by male candidates. Around 52 male candidates fought against seven women candidates who contested either as independents or from lesser-known parties.
In 2007, only four women contested from Ghaziabad, Murad Nagar, Modi Nagar and Hapur seats as independents or from local parties. None of them won.
The last time a woman won an assembly seat from Ghaziabad was Vimla Singh who won Modi Nagar seat on a Congress ticket in 1985. The earliest seat won by a woman in the area was from Hapur North way back in 1951 when Prakashwati Suda contested on a Congress ticket. Women candidates have been contesting off and on, but have failed to win a seat in the district since 1985.
“Politics is considered a male-dominated field even today. I think it is time that political parties reserve seats for women candidates. Backing by bigger parties will make a difference. People thought I will not get ticket from any major party, so I decided to contest, from a lesser known party, whatever the result... I feel women should contest irrespective of the results in such a case,” said Nasim Begum, who came from Loni to file her nomination from ‘Sakhi Samaj Party’ and is the only woman candidate from her party among a total of five candidates.