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Whiff of gender bias in Punjab son-rise

india Updated: Feb 10, 2007 02:59 IST
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When it comes to preferring sons to daughters, politicians in Punjab lead from the front. As the state goes to the polls, the doublespeak of these leaders is evident.

The poll will see the debut of the sons of five politicians; no daughters, predictably. Of the 1,050 candidates in the fray, only 49 are women.

The Congress has fielded three first-timers, each the son of former ministers or prominent politicians. Rajnish Kumar, whose 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, incidentally, is former Union Minister SS Dhindsa’s son).

Interestingly, the last time around it was the sister who had contested against Dhindsa and lost. Finally, it is the Banur seat that 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, while 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).

"Parties, that otherwise support 33 per cent reservation for women in their manifestoes, have not even fielded 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. For the SAD’s heir apparent, women are only a section that needs representation.

Email Jatin Gandhi: jatin .gandhi@hindustantimes.com

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