Women voters are playing a decisive role in deciding the fate of candidates on a large number of seats in this assembly election.
The data of the first four phases released by the Election Commission clearly shows they went neck-and-neck with men in exercising their franchise. In fact, the votes polled by women voters on several seats were more than male voters.
Though on the poll days in West UP, Rohilkhand, Terai region, Bundelkhand and Central UP pictures of women voters standing outside polling booths were flashed in the media, the Election Commission officials, who compiled the data, were pleasantly surprised to see the large turnout of female voters in majority of the constituencies. “The data shows that women, particularly in the rural areas, showed great interest in the election,” said additional chief electoral officer (ACEO) PK Pandey.
In Etawah, considered the pocket borough of ruling Yadav family, women (60.62%) outnumbered men (59.55%) in voting. In the assembly seats located in Kannauj district represented by Dimple Yadav, wife of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, 64.57% women cast their vote while male voter turnout was 62.31%.
In Allahabad too, 56.28% women cast their vote vis-à-vis 52.38% by men.
Bundelkhand, considered one of the backward region, of UP, also saw large turnout. Out of the seven districts in the region, except Jhansi and Lalitpur, women outnumbered men in remaining districts. In Banda district 63.72% women cast their vote whereas male voter turnout was 56.34%. Famous for religious spots, Chitrakoot too recorded high turnout of women voters 64.41% in comparison with only 57.43% male voters.
Highest polling (72%) was recorded in Lalitpur district. It was here men did a better job as 73.13 male voters cast their vote while female turnout was 70.78%. In Jhansi, too, 66.41% male voters cast their vote in comparison with 65.57% women.
In Rae Bareli, considered stronghold of the Gandhis, data shows 64.50% women cast their vote leaving male voters way behind at 56.12%.
In communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar district too women (68.04%) outnumbered the men (66.43%) in voting.
Other districts where women voter turnout was higher than the men included Fatehpur, Pratapgarh, Auraiya, Hardoi, Unnao, Kanpur Dehat, Rampur, Saharanpur, Sambhal, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Etah, Hathras, Kasganj and Mathura.
A political observer MK Prasad said, “motivation among women voters was quiet palpable in the rallies and public meetings organized by the political parties. Parties are aware of the women power in the election and tried to woo them through various schemes. Take for instance Samajwadi party which in its election manifesto promised distribution pressure cookers. The BJP offered girls security by constituting anti-Romeo squads that will protect them from eve teasing.
BSP chief Mayawati too promised women security. “If BSP forms government women and girls will roam freely outside their house after sunset, she said. She told women supporters to cast their vote before breakfast: ‘pahley matdan uskey baad jaalpan’.