While the political parties have always been promising to give 33% representation to the fairer sex, they have fielded a fraction of women candidates for the November 4 Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.
Of the two major political parties contesting elections for 68 assembly segments, the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have fielded three and seven women candidates, respectively.
This time, 34 women candidates are contesting in the electoral fray, making it their highest participation in the state elections so far. In the 2003 elections, 31 candidates contested elections and four were successful. However, percentage wise, women candidates were most successful in the 1998 elections, when 25 of them were in the fray and six were elected to the Vidhan Sabha.
Women constitute about 50% of voters in the state yet their representation in the assembly had been negligible over the years. Hindustan Times profiles 10 prominent women candidates who are in the electoral fray this time.
Election year Women candidates Successful
1977 9 1
1982 9 3
1985 10 3
1990 18 4
1993 17 3
1998 25 6
2003 31 4
2007 25 5
An active member of the Indian National Congress and Pradesh Congress Committee since 1970 and 1974, respectively, the octogenarian is still going strong. She contested her first assembly election in 1982. Daughter of Subhadra Devi, a noted social worker, who was a nominated member of the Himachal Pradesh assembly, Stokes is a graduate from Delhi University. She got married to Lal Chand Stokes, son of Satyanand Stokes who introduced apple in Shimla district. It is her eighth assembly election and she had won on six occasions.
Presently holding the post of All India Congress Committee member, Asha Kumari had graduated from Maharani Luxmi Bai College, Bhopal University. Daughter-in-law of the royal family of Chamba, she made a foray into the state politics by winning her first assembly election from Banikhet by securing 48.50% votes in 1985. She won elections in 1993, 1998 and 2003. However, in 2007, she lost from Banikhet to BJP candidate Renu Chaddha. She had remained education minister in the Congress government.
Anita K Verma
Presently, the AICC general secretary and National Women Congress president, Anita Verma won her first election from Hamirpur in 2003 by securing 44.73% votes. In 2007, she lost the election from Hamirpur segment to BJP candidate Urmil Thakur. A science graduate, Verma has also done a course in journalism from Delhi University.
A post graduate, Sarveen Chaudhary won from Shapur constituency on BJP ticket in 1998 by securing 52.94%, when there were total 25 women candidates in fray across the state and six had won the elections. In 2007, she was yet again winner amongst the five winning women of the 25 who contested the assembly elections. She won the Shahpur seat by securing 49.10% votes. She held the portfolio of social justice and empowerment in the BJP government.
Sitting MLA from Dalhousie, Renu Chadda had defeated her old rival and Congress candidate Asha Kumari and Loki Nand Sharma of Bhaujan Samaj Party in the 2007 elections from the then Banikhet segment by securing 48.9% votes.
A new entrant in assembly elections, Reeta Dhiman is contesting election from Indora. Though she has no political background, Reeta Dhiman had been a Zila Praishad member. Considered a lightweight, she is giving a tough fight to Congress candidate Kamal Kishore. Sheela Kumari
Another new face, Sheela Kumari is contesting election for the first time from Solan constituency. She is pitted against Congress Working Committee member and former MP Dhani Ram Shandil. Sheela Kumari had been panchayat pradhan and Zila Parishad chairman. Shyama Sharma
A post graduate, Shyama Sharma contested her first assembly election in 1977 from Nahan on the Janata Party ticket when nine women candidates contested the elections across the state. She was only women to win election at that time. Consequently, she won in 1982 and 1990 on the Janata Party ticket. In 1993, she lost on Janata Party ticket. She also lost elections in 1998, 2003 and 2007 from Nahan on BJP ticket.
Having joined the dissident group of BJP, Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), Shyama Sharma is contesting on HLP ticket from Nahan segment. Vijaya Joyti
A new face, Vijaya Jyoti is daughter-in-law of the royal family of Keonthal estate, which had Junga as the capital. She is following in the footsteps of her father-in-law Hitender Sen, a former MLA, who won from Kusumpti segment as an independent in 1952. Vijaya Jyoti had remained Junga gram panchayat pradhan from 1993-1996 and later Mashobra block development chairperson. Prem Lata Thakur
Wife of former horticulture minister Satya Prakash Thakur, Prem Lata's father-in-law Thakur Ved Ram is largely credited with spearheading cooperative movement in Kullu district. Prem Lata had won Zila Parishad elections with an overwhelming margin. Compiled by Bhawani Negi