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Congress, BJP record shows little space for women in Rajasthan assembly elections

Past record of Congress and BJP in Rajasthan assembly elections show that despite claims the parties have not given women candidates ‘enough’ representation.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Nov 02, 2018 10:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Rajasthan Election 2018,Rajasthan Election 2018 News,Rajasthan Constituency
BJP MLA Amrita Meghwal with her child at the Rajasthan assembly. (HT File Photo )

Despite claims by Congress and BJP leaders of giving more representation to women in politics, the past record of both parties in Rajasthan shows facts to the contrary.

On an average in the last three assembly elections — 2003, 2008 and 2013 — BJP has given 13% tickets to women, while the figure for Congress is 11%.

The total number of voters in Rajasthan is 4.74 crore, of which 2.27 crore are women.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in almost all his election rallies has pitched for more women participation in elections. “I want to see more women candidates in elections or else, will not approve the list. Nothing can happen in India without them, they run the country,” he said while addressing a rally in Sagwara town of Dungarpur district.

Similarly, BJP leaders such as chief minister Vasundhara Raje, state party chief Madan Lal Saini and Rajasthan poll in-charge Prakash Javadekar have on various occasions stressed on more representation to women in elections. But the facts show otherwise.

In the 2003 elections, Congress gave tickets to 18 women candidates, while BJP gave to 22. BJP formed the government and Raje became the CM and Usha Poonia was made minister of state.

In the 2008 elections, Congress gave tickets to 23 women and BJP to 32. Congress formed the government and there were four women ministers, which included cabinet rank to Bina Kak.

In 2013, Congress gave ticket to 24 women and BJP to 26. CM Raje and four women minister were appointed, which included a cabinet minister rank to Kiran Maheshwari.

When asked about the poor representation to women, BJP leaders are quick to point out to the fact that it has amended its party constitution to give 33% reservation to women in its organisational structure. However, the representation of women in the different cells and wings of the party remains below 33%.

State BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek admitted that the representation to women is not 33%, but said it is rising each year. “We are making efforts to include more and more women in the organisation,” he said.

He said the party favours giving more tickets to women. “Any woman who is capable and has been working in her area and has a good chance of winning will definitely be considered for a ticket,” he said.

State BJP women’s cell president Madhu Sharma said, “BJP has a woman chief minister. And our government has brought 50% reservation for women in panchayats and 33% in civic bodies.” Sharma said within the organisation too, the BJP has appointed women at the booth, zone, district and state level working committees. She said the BJP women’s cell has demanded that the party give 33% tickets to women candidates.

The Congress, however, is lagging at the organisational level. Of the 39 Congress districts, only two have women presidents –Saroj Meena in Kota (rural)and Gangaben Garasiya in Sirohi. Of the 400 blocks in 200 assembly constituencies of Rajasthan, Congress has appointed only six women chiefs.

“The state women Congress had submitted a list of around 23 candidates who should be given opportunity to contest polls, but on Gandhi’s instructions more names were submitted,” said a senior women Congress leader.

Rajasthan Women Congress President Rehana Riyaz said, “Congress has always encouraged women and we are hopeful that party leadership in state and Centre will give more chance to women candidates in coming elections. Our party chief Rahul Gandhi wants that 50% of CM face in Congress-ruled states should be of women.” She added that Congress wants that 33% reservation for women should be there in assemblies and parliament. State Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma said, “AICC chief Rahul Gandhi from open platforms has time and again has asked to encourage women. We are hopeful that this time more women candidates will be given tickets.”

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 11:51 IST