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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Parties keep women out; rich candidates in

Agencies  New Delhi, December 02, 2013
First Published: 19:34 IST(2/12/2013) | Last Updated: 13:38 IST(7/12/2013)

Campaigning for the December 4 assembly elections in Delhi ended on Monday with around 25 rallies and road shows being organised in the capital.

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The public engagement programmers included those by BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal.

While the national capital was plastered with posters promising safety to women and the issue figures big in party manifestos, very few women have made it to the candidates’ list for the Delhi assembly polls.

According to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms, there are only 69 women among the 796 candidates fielded by the major parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

This is a dismal 9%, much lower than the 33% reservation sought by the pending bill that proposes that seats be reserved for women in state assemblies and parliament.

Among the major political parties, the Congress and the AAP have fielded six candidates each while five women are contesting on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tickets. 

In the 70-member Delhi Assembly, there are presently only three women representatives — chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Kiran Walia and Barkha Singh.

While the Delhi poll fray has very few women, the number of millionaire candidates is quite high.

According to a recent release by the Association of Democratic Reforms, an independent election watch dog, at least a third of Delhi's candidates are millionaires and the richest candidate is worth over Rs. 200 crores.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is keeping an eagle eye on the “rich” candidates contesting the assembly elections in Delhi. They will be disqualified if they cross the EC's expenditure limit of Rs. 14 lakh during campaigning. Senior officials in the Delhi Election Commission believe that the richer candidates will make efforts to cross this limit in some way.

“Unlike in the last Delhi assembly elections, this time the Delhi Election Commission has managed to set up one of the best surveillance teams to keep vigil over the rich candidates and the demeanour in which they spend money during their campaign,” said joint chief electoral officer, Delhi Election Commission, Rajesh Goyal.

The ADR Election Watch, which has analysed the poll affidavits of some 800 candidates contesting in Delhi, says at least 33% of them can count their money in the crores.

The average wealth of candidates has shot up within five years from Rs. 1.77 crores in the last assembly polls to Rs. 3.43 crores this time.

"The analysis by the ADR makes surveillance mandatory for the rich candidates", added Rajesh Goyal.

The EC has already deployed three surveillance teams in all the nine districts, who are being assisted by videograph teams. They will record all the functions and events organised by the candidates of the various political parties, said Goyal

Later, the video teams will forward the videos to the Election Commission where the footage will be converted into CDs and closely scrutinised by the commission's accounting team, Goyal said.


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