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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: ‘Fair’ cause, insufficient progress

FACT-CHECK Although the number of women candidates has gone up from 9% in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to above 17% in parliamentary polls in Uttar Pradesh this time, parties don't quite live up to their promise when it comes to ticket distribution.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 14, 2019 09:52 IST
M Tariq Khan
M Tariq Khan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
The demand for 33% women’s reservation remains unfufilled
The demand for 33% women’s reservation remains unfufilled(File)

When it comes to women’s representation in Parliament, both the Congress and the BJP advocate 33% quota for women in their party manifesto.

But a fact-check shows that the fair sex is given a raw deal by almost all political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, which don’t quite live up to their promise when it comes to ticket distribution.

The upside of the story, however, is that there has been a gradual increase in women candidates and their number has gone up from 9% in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to above 17% in parliamentary polls in Uttar Pradesh this time.

A data analysis of the contestants in fray for the eight Lok Sabha seats that went to polls on April 11 shows that out of the total 96 candidates, seven are women (10.41%). But five out of seven women were contesting as independents and only two, Dolly Sharma from Ghaziabad Tabassum Begum from Kairana, have been chosen by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party respectively.  

The picture improves somewhat if you take into account all the seven phases of the parliamentary poll and the number of women given tickets by major political parties. The four major political parties, namely the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party have together given tickets to 29 women candidates for the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. Both the Congress and the BJP have fielded 10 women each. But the Congress, which has announced its candidates on 56 seats so far, has a higher percentage (17.85%) against the BJP (14.28%) contesting on 70 seats. The Samajwadi Party, which is contesting on 37 seats, has fielded five women (14.28%) out of the 28 seats on which it has announced its candidates followed by three women nominees (13.63%) by BSP out of 22 seats on which it has declared its candidates. The BSP is yet to announce its candidates on 22 out of the 38 seats it is contesting in alliance with the SP.

The BJP maintains that it assesses its candidate on his/her ‘winnability’ potential and not on gender.

“On each and every level of our organisational setup, the party has made sure that at least one third (33 per cent) of them are women,” says BJP leader Amit Puri.

He said this was also evident wherever the BJP was in power and on all important government positions. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party, which top the list for giving the maximum number of tickets to women, say their actions speak louder than words. As if to drive home the message, SP chief and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav announced the candidature of three women contestants, including his wife Dimple Yadav from Kannauj, Usha Verma from Hardoi and Purvi Verma from Kheri, on International Woman’s Day on March 8


“Women roughly constitute half of the population but their representation is not adequate in politics and decision making institutions. But this does not mean our party has not promoted women,” says Abdul Hafiz Gandhi spokesperson of Samajwadi Party (SP) He said his party was in favour of the Women’s Reservation Bill but wanted special provisions to include women from the marginalized and backward sections. Uttar Pradesh figures on the third and fourth position for women MPs and legislators, respectively.

A report by Association for Democratic Reforms, which analysed 51,143 candidates who contested various elections across the country, found that only 4,865 (or 9.51%) out of them were women. It, however, admitted that there was a marginal rise in the number of women lawmakers from the past three Lok Sabha elections.  

“While the number of candidates in the last three parliamentary elections has increased remarkably from 2004 to 2014, the corresponding increase in the number of women candidates has remained nominal,” said Sanjay Singh, the state coordinator of UP Election Watch, an affiliate of ADR.


First Published: Apr 14, 2019 09:52 IST

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