Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has kept his promise to name women candidates on 33 per cent Lok Sabha seats in the state.(Arabinda Mahapatra/HT Photo)
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has kept his promise to name women candidates on 33 per cent Lok Sabha seats in the state.(Arabinda Mahapatra/HT Photo)

Lok Sabha election: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik fulfils promise, names women candidates on 33% seats

Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik has named women candidates for seven of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
By Debabrata Mohanty | Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2019 04:21 PM IST

In line with his promise to nominate at least one-third women candidates for the elections, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has picked 7 women to contest from as many seats out of the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies that would go to polls in four phases between April 11 and 29.

At a women’s convention last month in Kendrapara district, Patnaik had announced that he would pick 33 per cent women candidates. Keeping true to his word, Patnaik has sent an esoteric list that includes three housewives, a women’s self-help group activist, a doctor, an engineer and a former state administrative service officer. The women candidates from Biju Janata Dal are Dr Rajashree Mallick, Sarmistha Kumari Sethi, Chandrani Murmu, Pramila Bisoyi, Sunita Biswal, Manjulata Mandal and Kaushalya Hikaka

“It was a dream of Biju babu (former CM Biju Patnaik) to empower women. Biju babu showed the way to the entire nation. He was the first in India to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the three-tiered Panchayati Raj Institutions and government jobs. In order to fulfil his dreams, I am making this announcement,” Patnaik said on March 10.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJD had fielded two women candidates in Jajpur and Keonjhar. Later, it nominated another woman candidate from the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat after its sitting MP died.

So far, Trinamool Congress has done better than the BJD in giving representation to women. The party has given more than 40 per cent of the Bengal’s Lok Sabha seats to women candidates.

However, the party did not adhere to the 33 per cent reservation formula while fielding candidates in Assembly election that is being held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. So far, it has fielded only 14 women candidates on the 144 seats declared so far. In the 2014 elections, too, it had fielded the same number of candidates even as the BSP fielded 12 women candidates while the Congress fielded 9.

A total of 115 women candidates had contested in the 2014 Assembly polls, making it roughly 8 per cent of the total number of contestants. So far, only 56 women have been elected to the Odisha Assembly since 1936. Of the 11 women MLAs in the outgoing Assembly, the ruling BJD has 10 members while the BJP has one.

Incidentally, a 2017 study on women’s participation in state Assembly polls found that women electors in the Odisha rooted for male candidates and voted out women contestants quite comprehensively despite a record turnout of women voters.

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