Despite women empowerment high on their agenda, political parties in Uttar Pradesh have been indifferent towards women candidates.
Leave alone the 33 percent reservation, the parties have not allowed even 10 percent of their tickets to women candidates this time.
Led by a woman, the Bahujan Samaj Party that is fighting elections with a slogan ‘Behenji ko aaney do, betiyon ko muskurane do’ has not allowed enough space to women candidates. Out of the final list of 401 candidates declared by the party, only 18 seats have women contestants which are not even 5 percent of the total numbers. And many of those that are allowed tickets are either wives or relatives of the existing BSP leaders.
“Behenji alone is the woman face of the party. In her last regimes the state has been a safe place for women,” said a party leader.
Even Samajwadi Party, that has empowered women all through its last regime through Samajwadi pension and Kanya Vidya dhan and has many goodies for women in its manifesto too, has failed to allow enough space to women.
In addition to allowing ticket to the Yadav family’s bahu Aparna Yadav, the party, in its list of 324 candidates declared before alliance, has only 24 names of women. Among the candidates is a young face Richa Singh who has been a student union leader at Allahabad University. The list also includes old women leaders of the party including Arun Kumari Kori and Sushila Saroj.
Bharatiya Janata Party that has so far declared 304 candidates has about 36 women names. Out of this, around 10 are relatives of party leaders. Some such candidates include Manju Tyagi- a party worker’s wife, Mriganka Gupta- daughter of party leader Hukum Singh, Anita Rajput and Kanchan Lodhi- close aides of Kalyan Singh, Jaidevi- wife of party leader Kaushal Kishore and Neelima Katiyar- daughter of a party leader, among others. The party has also allowed ticket to Rani Pakshalika Singh of royal family of Baah. She is wife of former SP leader Aridaman Singh who is now in BJP.
The Congress party has two women names in its list of 43 candidates declared so far.
Prof Rakesh Chandra, senior faculty Lucknow University who has conducted studies on women’s participation in politics said, “Parties say that winning ability is the criteria for selection of candidates. Since the fact is that women do not have their own money to contest elections, they fail to enter into politics unless they are propped by some men—either of family or of the party. So, women’s participation depends on their backing and not on their wish and capability.”
The young voters, particularly women wish to see more young women participation in politics. Anubha Mishra, an IT professional said, “I wish to see more educated and young women in the list. If there is any such candidate, I would vote for her, irrespective of her party.”
Another Shuchi Singh, a young bank professional said, “It is only due to lack of women participation in politics that we do not get the right policies for women. If there are educated and independent women in power, they would definitely work for women issues.”
The young voters are also unhappy over allotment of tickets to women family members of party leaders. They feel that such women are only puppets in the hands of the men in their family and don’t have any say in politics.