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Women still struggling for place in MP politics

Of the 2100 candidates in fray for 230 seats in the state, only 186 are women, reports Sravani Sarkar.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2003 00:34 IST

 Total candidates in fray

 2170

 Total women candidates

 186

 Independents

 60

 Indian National Congress

 34

 Bharatiya Janata Party

19

 Bahujan Samaj Party

16

 Nationalist Congress Party

 11

 Samajwadi Party

 11

 Lok Jan Shakti Party

 08

 Gondwana Gantantra Party

 07

Only 8.5 per cent opportunity to a section that represents 50 per cent of the society!! The woeful statistics very well depict the pitiable situation of the fair sex in the present political scenario in Madhya Pradesh.

Of the 2100 odd candidates in fray for the 230 Assembly seats in state, only 186 are women and how many of them would actually make it to the power corridors remains anyone's guess.

For all the talks of women empowerment and equal opportunities, these figures clearly outline the fact that the women are still struggling badly to get any foothold whatsoever on the men-dominated political scenario.

This struggle starts right at the beginning and it hardly matters that one of the major parties contending to form the next government is projecting a woman as a chief minister.

As many as 60 of the 186 women candidates trying their luck for the 12th Legislative Assembly of the state are independent candidates - mere stooges who are sure to lose badly out in the tough contest.

Of the remaining candidates too, winning capability of maximum are in doubt and only about 20 of these candidates look somewhat sure to make it to the Assembly this time.

Among the political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is projecting a woman as its chief ministerial candidate, has come out with the poorest show as far as representation of the fair sex is concerned.

The BJP has fielded 19 women candidates in 230 seats, giving them only 8.2 per cent opportunity, while it has been trumpeting its willingness to go with the women's reservation bill that calls for 33 per cent reservation.

The ruling Indian Nation Congress has managed to put up a comparatively better show, fielding the maximum number of women candidates at 34. However this makes for only 14.8 per cent of the total 229 candidates that the party has fielded, again quite short of the 33 per cent mark.

Among others, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nationalist Congress Party have fielded 16 and 11 women candidates out of the total 157 and 105 candidates fielded by them, thus providing 10 per cent share to the fair sex.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded 11, the Lok Jan Shakti Party - eight, the Gondwana Ganatantra Party - seven and the Republic Party of India - three.

As for the winning capability, few women candidates look sure to make it to the 12th Assembly with ease.

The Congress has gone on to retain 14 of its 15 existing MLAs, dropping only Shankuntala Pradhan from Naurojabad in Umaria district, while Kalpana Parulekar has already shifted her base to NCP and is in fray as candidate of that party.

The BJP has retained all five of its women MLAs. The only other women MLA, Vidyavati Patel of BSP is also in the fray.

Along with chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharati of BJP, only those women candidates, who have already been to State Assembly have any chance whatsoever of making it to the Assembly again. But the fact that most of the sitting MLAs belong to the ruling Congress and the strong anti-incumbency, the figure may as well go down.

Since the formation of the state in 1956, 11 legislative assemblies have been constituted, but there has hardly been any worthwhile representation of women in any of them.

The maximum number of women MLAs were in the second Assembly when 34 of them were members. In the eighth Assembly 32 women representatives were elected while the third largest figure is in the existing 11th Assembly, which has 22 women members.

The worst scenario was witnessed in the sixth Assembly where only 10 women candidates could make it to the House.

In a few days time the scenario regarding women's representation in the 12th Assembly would become clear, but given the base from where the contest starts, the scenario is hardly expected to be encouraging for the proponents of women's equality.

First Published: Nov 29, 2003 00:34 IST