If the skewed sex ratio was not enough proof of gender discrimination in Haryana, the political arena presents an even starker picture. Only 4% of the candidates for the state’s 10 Lok Sabha seats are women — 10 out of 230. And all parties stand exposed.
While the Congress has fielded sitting MP and granddaughter of former chief minister Bansi Lal, Shruti Choudhry, from the Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat, her candidature has more to do with caste calculations and family legacy.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has fielded Kusum Sherwal from Ambala, a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes.
As for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was quite vocal on Delhi’s streets after the Nirbhaya gangrape, it has fielded only one woman, Balwinder Kaur, wife of farmer leader and AAP national executive member Gurnam Singh, who could not contest due to technical reasons.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has handed the ticket to four former Congressmen, but not fielded even one woman candidate.
Sunita Duggal, a former bureaucrat who resigned from her job, became a victim of political calculations, as she was sidelined at the eleventh hour after the BJP handed the Sirsa seat to its ally Haryana Janhit Congress in exchange for Karnal.
Apart from nominees of known political parties, seven other women remained in poll fray — Kanta Allaria (Kurukshetra) of the Indian Bahujan Samajwadi Party IBSP, Mamta Rani (Hisar) of the Rashtrawadi Parivartan Party, Kusum (Faridabad) of All India People’s Front (Radical), Nirmala (Faridabad) of Janta Dal (United), and independents Shashi Saini (Karnal), Savitri (Karnal) and Sushila (Faridabad).
Of these 10 candidates, one has a doctorate, three are postgraduates, five are matriculate or less, and one has not mentioned her educational status in the poll affidavit.
But things have not changed much for women since 1967, when there was zero participation of women; their maximum strength was 14 candidates in 2009.
In 2004, only eight women were in fray, three in 1999, six in 1998, nine in 1996, six in 1991, three in 1989, ten in 1984, five in 1980 and two in 1977.
In the outgoing Lok Sabha, there were two women winners from Haryana — Shruti Choudhry and Kumari Selja. Selja was the lone woman winner in 2004. She has remained Lok Sabha member from Sirsa, too, winning in 1991 and 1996.
In 1999, Sudha Yadav of the BJP and Kailasho Saini of the INLD were elected, while in 1998, Kailasho had been elected. Chandravati was the first woman MP from Haryana in 1970, elected on the Janata Party ticket.
“Sidelining women in polls is not a new phenomenon as it reaffirms men’s deep-rooted patriarchal mindset once again,” commented Prof Jitender Prasad, sociologist from Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak.