Uttarakhand women leaders demand fair share of party tickets
With the assembly elections just a few months away, women’s wings of two major political parties in the state have started demanding ‘reservation’ for tickets.
Women wings of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have demanded that at least 30% and 20% tickets respectively be given to women politicians, who are often “sidelined” while nominating party candidates.
Uttarakhand is likely to go to polls early next year. In the 2012 elections, only 8% of the total candidates fielded by political parties in the hill state were women.
Sarita Arya, president of the Uttarakhand Mahila Congress, said that much remains to be done by parties in terms of providing adequate representation to women within their organisational setup.
“This time, we want at least 21 tickets (for women) in the 70-seat assembly…there are a number of women in the party who are active at the grassroots level and have strong political background (to qualify for tickets),” she told Hindustan Times.
“The wing has raised the matter with the party’s state leadership and will take up the demand with the central leadership soon,” she said.
Neelam Sehgal, state BJP Mahila Morcha chief, said the party’s women cell has demanded that “at least 14” women candidates” be nominated for the assembly polls.
“I will shortly hand over a letter to party president Amit Shah demanding tickets for women candidates in the assembly elections,” she told HT.
A three-time woman legislator, who did not wish to be named, said women are considered political lightweights by the party leadership that expects them to “prove their leadership qualities despite years of grassroots experience”.
Senior BJP leader Sushila Baluni said “muscle-power and money-play” work against women politicians, who find it difficult to rise within the organizational circles.
Political parties by and large shy away from providing a level-playing field to women ticket seekers, said Dehradun-based women’s rights activist Rekha Pundir.
“Gender discrimination starts from within the parties, which are reluctant to issue tickets to women candidates and this is unfortunate, especially since women have played a very active role during the statehood movement in the 1990s,” she said.
State Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay said that he will “fight for greater representation of women in the assembly polls though winability will be an important factor while deciding nominations.”
“The process would have been a lot easier had there been a constitutional provision for it but we will try our best to accommodate all strong candidates,” he said.
State BJP chief Ajay Bhatt said the party will “try its best to give adequate representation” to women candidates based on their political background and potential voter base.