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'In Punjab politics, only the son rises'

The poll will see the debut of five politicians' sons but no daughters. Of the 1050 candidates contesting the polls, only 49 are women, reports Jatin Gandhi.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007 17:40 IST

When it comes to preferring sons to daughters, politicians in Punjab lead from the front. As the state goes to polls, the double speak of these leaders is evident.

The poll will see the debut of five politicians' sons but no daughters. Of the 1050 candidates contesting the polls, only 49 are women.

The Congress has fielded three first timers each who are sons of former ministers or prominent politicians.

Rajnish Kumar who's father Dr Kewal Krishan was the speaker in the Amarinder Singh government is in the fray from Mukerian. Former minister Balram Dass Arora's son Aman Arora pipped his sister Sonia Arora for the Congress ticket from Sunam. He will face sitting MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa (who was incidentally is former Union Minister SS Dhindsa's son). Last time around it was the sister who had contested against Dhindsa and lost. The Banur seat has former minister Hansraj Sharma's son Rakesh Sharma contesting on the party ticket.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has fielded former finance minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh's son Jasjit Singh from Kharar. Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann has fielded his son Emman Singh Mann on the party's ticket from Sirhind.

"The message to the people is clear: if the political legacy is to be passed on, it must go to the son, not the daughter or daughter-in-law," says Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, Institute of Development and Communication (IDC). "So the wife or the daughter has to canvas actively for candidate but is rarely is the candidate herself," he adds.

The Congress has fielded 10 women, the SAD five and its alliance partner, the Bhartiya Janata Party, one. "Parties, that otherwise support 33 per cent reservation for women in their manifestoes, haven't fielded even 10 per cent women. The feudal ethos is reinforced in their lists," says Dr Pam Rajput, Director, Women's Resource and Advocacy Centre.

In principle, the parties are opposed to gender discrimination but not at the cost of seats. "We are against what people are doing to the girl child.

If we come to power, we are going to be strict against those who discriminate on the basis of gender," says Sukhbir Badal, General Secretary, SAD.

On why his party couldn't even field five per cent women, he says, "We try to give representation to all sections." For the SAD's heir apparent, women are only a section that needs representation.

Meanwhile, in the Congress too, chief minister Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh, who became general secretary of the Punjab Congress during Amarinder's regime, is preparing for the future.

Email Jatin Gandhi: jatin.gandhi@hindustantimes.com