Even as the nation debates the women's reservation bill, women in Tripura are getting ready to stand up and be counted in elections to local self-government bodies next month.
Political parties across the board are positive about nominating women candidates for the three-tier panchayat polls July 20.
Congress leader Ratan Lal Nath said: "Yes, our party is already in the process of nominating more women now than in the previous panchayat election."
"We shall try our best to field maximum number of tribal women and women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and other backward communities," Nath added.
The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has also announced the nomination of more women candidates this time.
"Success of women-run panchayats is excellent. Many women panchayat representatives have also got awards for their remarkable performance in running the local self-government bodies," said CPI-M spokesman Gautam Das.
The government has reserved 1,900 of the 5,676 seats in the three-tier panchayat system for women.
"More than 33 percent of the 5,676 seats in the gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads are reserved for women, including women belonging to tribes and the Scheduled Castes," said Y P Singh, Tripura's state election commissioner.
Social activist Fulan Bhattacharjee said: "Although women in the northeastern state of Tripura have been active in politics during the past several decades, institutional arrangement for their active participation in the political process, development activities and in policy formulation has been done with the election of several hundred women to local self-government bodies."
A senior official of the panchayat department said: "To develop their skill and expertise, the Guwahati-based National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child development (NIPCCD) had provided orientation training to several hundred elected representatives of rural bodies in Tripura."
The one-and-a-half-month-long election process would begin with the issuance of the statutory notification June 22.
For the first time, photo identity cards would be made compulsory for voters when they exercise their franchise.
"Instead of electronic voting machines (EVM), the traditional method of voting through ballot papers and ballot boxes would be used in the politically important elections to 511 gram panchayats, 23 panchayat samities and four zilla parishads," state election commissioner Singh said.