Assurances on women safety are galore in the national capital in the run up to the Delhi Assembly polls but when it comes to fielding women candidates, the major parties in the fray have fared poorly.
A total of 19 women candidates have been fielded by three major political parties in the contest- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the election for the 70-member House.
BJP has given tickets to maximum number of women candidates for the February 7 polls including its Chief Ministerial nominee Kiran Bedi who is contesting from Krishna Nagar.
The party has fielded eight women including former Union minister Krishna Tirath from Patel Nagar, former DUSU presidents Rekha Gupta from Shalimar Bagh and Nupur Sharma from high-profile New Delhi constituency, Kiran Vaidya from Trilokpuri, Rajni Abbi from Timarpur, homoeopathy practitioner Nandini Sharma from Malviya Nagar and former South Delhi mayor Sarita Chaudhary from Mehrauli.
Close to BJP is the Aam Aadmi Party, which has fielded six women candidates including Rakhi Birla, Bandna Kumari, Saritha Singh, Alka Lambha, Pramila Tokas and Bhavna Gaur.
While Birla was the cabinet minister of Women & Child, Social Welfare and Languages in Delhi during AAP’s 49-day regime, Bandana Kumari was elected as an MLA from the Shalimar Bagh constituency in last polls.
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.
The prominent names in the list include Kiran Walia, who is contesting from New Delhi Assembly seat against Arvind Kejriwal and President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishta Mukherjee, who is contesting from Greater Kailash Assembly constituency.
Other women nominees of the Congress include Rita Shokeen, Meenakshi Chandela and municipal councillor Rinku.
The number of tickets given to women candidates by the three leading parties is in sharp contrast to population of women voters in Delhi.
According to electoral roll, a total of 1.33 crore people are eligible to vote out of which over 72 lakh are men and around 59 lakh are women voters. Out of 673 candidates in the fray, only 66Â are women.
In the 2013 Assembly polls in Delhi, Congress and AAP had fielded six women candidates each while from the BJP five women candidates had contested the polls.
Parties, however, are claiming that fielding less number of women candidates is not ‘intentional’ and has been done keeping several factors including ‘winnability’ in mind.
“We have fielded maximum number of women candidates in comparison with AAP and BJP. We have always advocated reservation for women too. But there are certain factors that have been kept in mind during the ticket distribution.
“How active the candidate has socially been in the particular area? What is the winnability percentage? All these things have been kept in mind while fielding any particular candidate,” said Ashwini Upadhyay, spokesperson Delhi BJP.
Senior Congress leader and New Delhi candidate Kiran Walia said, “Our party has had strong examples of women leaders. Sonia Gandhi is the party president, Shiela Dixit has been former Chief Minister.
“And this time too whoever featured on the list after consideration of all the factors in accordance with party policies, we have fielded that candidate irrespective of being a male or female. There is nothing intentional.”
AAP leader Rakhi Birla, who is contesting from Mangolpuri constituency said, “Women issues have been listed on priority list in AAP’s manifesto. We are a team, we have to deal with those issues and ensure security of women. So, more important is that the team is able to do that rather than who is included in the team and who is not.As a woman leader, I am always respected in the party.”