No fair deal for fair sex in Bihar polls
Notwithstanding the clamour for reservation of 33 per cent of seats in parliament and state legislatures for women and their remarkable performance at the hustings, the fair sex have never got a fair deal for contesting elections by political parties in Bihar.
Despite 48 out of 206 women - who contested the Lok Sabha polls in the state between 1952 and 1999 - making it to the lower house recording a 23 per cent success rate, almost all parties fight shy of fielding them in good numbers.
In the elections for the 14th Lok Sabha, different political parties have fielded eight women including members of the dissolved Lok Sabha - Kanti Singh (RJD) and Renu Kumari (JD-U).
The Congress has nominated former Union minister Krishna Sahi from Begusarai and Meira Kumar, a former MP and daughter of late Jagjivan Ram, from Sasaram, while JD(U) has once again reposed faith in Renu Kumari who is contesting from Khagaria.
Kanti Singh has been fielded by RJD from Ara, while Reena Rai has got Samajwadi Party ticket from Jehanabad. Sushila Devi and Madhavi Sarkar are CPI-ML candidates for Buxar and Purnea respectively while Ranjita Ranjan of Lok Janshakti Party is in the fray from Saharsa.
Surbala Krishna (Gaya), Girija Devi (Maharajganj) and Lalsa Devi (Buxar) are in the poll arena as independents.
Participation vs success rate
Though the participation of women candidates in the last 13 elections had been abysmally low at around three per cent, their success rate of 23 per cent can be termed remarkable by all accounts.
In a state which has nearly 47 per cent of electorate as women, the highest number of 38 women candidates tried their luck in 1996 of whom only three could make it to the Lok Sabha.
Did women plunge in previous polls?
In the first general election in 1952, three women took the plunge in the hustings and two won. Continuing the remarkable run of the fair sex in the general elections, seven women took the electoral plunge in 1957, of whom five won. The impressive showing of women continued in the 1962 elections as seven of the nine female contestants emerged triumphant.
In 1967, six women entered the fray of whom two emerged victorious and in the subsequent election in 1971, seventeen tried their luck and six won.
The 1977 polls were the worst for women candidates as all the eight lost, but in 1980, five of the 19 in the fray won.
In the 1984 elections, held in the backdrop of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, women put up their most impressive showing with nine of the 16 women contestants emerging triumphant. All of them belonged to the Congress.
In the 1989 elections, 17 women fought but only two could win and in the 1991 polls, 32 tried their luck though only three managed a victory.
Altogether 22 women entered the electoral arena in 1998 and just four won, while in 1999 three of the 12 in fray including Renu Kumari of JD (U), Kanti Singh (RJD) and Shyama Sinha (Congress) won.
Sinha has left the Aurangabad seat, she had won last time, for her husband, former Delhi police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar, who is contesting on a Congress ticket.