Women empowerment is always high on the agenda of political parties but when it comes to giving them representation in electoral politics, the response is not at all encouraging.
In the coming Lok Sabha elections, only 13 women candidates are in fray from Delhi. Three of them are from the mainstream political parties. In the 2009 elections, 18 candidates had contested the polls.
The Congress has repeated sitting MP Krishna Tirath from the Northwest constituency, the BJP has fielded Meenakshi Lekhi from New Delhi, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gave a ticket to Rakhi Birla at the very last minute from Northwest after the party had to withdraw candidature of Mahender Singh.Apart from these three, 10 other women candidates are contesting the elections. The lacklustre response of political parties in fielding fewer women candidates also stems from the fact that in 2009, as many 16 candidates had lost their deposits, implying they got less than one-sixth of the total valid votes polled.
“There are 49% women voters but when it comes to fielding women candidates, the party thinks otherwise. As a woman, I can connect better on the issue of women safety more than a male candidate and that is where my strength lies,” said Ruby Yadav, an independent candidate from south Delhi, and a businesswoman.
Out of the 160 candidates in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Delhi, only 18(11%) women contested, of which only one women candidate - Krishna Tirath - made it to Parliament.
“Before forming the government, parties promise a lot for women empowerment. They claim women safety is their priority but fail to understand the fact that there should be women MPs in the Lok Sabha. I will work for women, no matter in which sector they are,” said Rubina Khan, who is contesting from New Delhi as an independent candidate and is a housewife.
“We have announced 385 candidates so far out of which 59 are women, the highest in the country. In the Delhi assembly, we have three women MLAs. Yet we do admit that we are underrepresented as far as women are concerned and will field more candidates,” said an AAP spokesperson.
BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi maintained that there was a plan to field more women candidates but it did not materialise. “Fewer women are participating at the political level there is no doubt in that. But there was talk of giving more tickets to women candidates this time but somehow it didn’t materialise,” said Lekhi.