Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have promised to improve law and order situation for the safety of women if the BJP is voted to power in the ongoing Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, but when it comes to promoting women candidates in the election, the saffron party is no better from the competitors. In PM Modi’s own parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, the BJP has not fielded even a single woman candidate for the polls.
Varanasi has five assembly seats — City North, City South, Sevapuri, Rohaniya and Cantonment. From North seat, present MLA Ravindra Jaiswal is re-contesting. In South, BJP has given the ticket to Neelkanth Tiwari in place of senior BJP leader Shyam Dev Rai Chowdhary. From Sevapuri, Neelkanth Patel of Apna Dal, which is an ally of BJP, and Surendra Narayan Singh from Rohaniya. The party has fielded Saurabh Srivastava, who is the son of present MLA Jyotsana Srivastava, from Varanasi Cantonment.
BJP’s women workers are, however, not happy with the party’s decision not to field female candidates in Varanasi. Meena Chaubey, who has been associated with the BJP since 1996, told FE Online, “PM Modi has been working to uplift the position of women in the society. His initiatives always showcased his intentions towards it, but why not when it comes to elections. There is only one woman MLA here (Varanasi) but this time a male candidate has been given the ticket to contest from her seat.”
“This shows PM’s lack of confidence in women candidates,” she added. Chaubey had also applied for a ticket from Cantonment seat but her request was rejected and present MLA’s son, Saurabh Srivastava, got the ticket. This, however, irked women BJP workers of the district.
“We have written to Modiji in this regard and want him to reply ton it,” said Chaubey. She further said that a former MLC and BJP worker, Dr. Veena Pandey, was also expecting to get a chance to contest from Cantonment but she was disappointed.
Another party worker, Nirmala Singh Patel, who has been associated with BJP since 1989, was also expecting to get a ticket from Rohaniya assembly seat but the party did not consider her and, instead, trusted Surendra Singh. Patel is serving the party as the General Secretary in Varanasi Mahanagar. Patel, however, said she would not leave the party. “I have been elected as a corporator twice and serving to the people with complete dedication. Though I have not been given the ticket to contest, I will continue to serve the party and work for the welfare of people.”
Local BJP spokesperson, Sanjay Bharadwaj, denied his party is biased against women ticket aspirants. “The party allocates tickets on the basis of the ability of candidates to work for the welfare of the people. It should not be associated with the gender of the applicants,” he said.