West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik have announced greater representation to women candidates in ticket distribution.
Women candidates in Lok Sabha election: While regional parties have taken a lead in giving greater representation to women candidates in the general elections this time but the two national parties – BJP and Congress – still lag behind in giving tickets to them. BJP has released list of 184 candidates on Thursday but the number of women candidates is less than 12 per cent. As per the tickets announced so far, the record of Congress party is even worse.
“It’s very disappointing that national parties are not giving tickets to women candidates,” said Tara Krishnaswamy, Co-founder of Shakti, a non-partisan citizens movement seeking more representation for women in politics.
“Around a year back BJP President Amit Shah announced with a lot of pride that the party had three crore women members, despite that they are not able to give 20-25% tickets to women,” said Tara Krishnawamy, asking whether these women party members were there to work as mere unpaid labourers or they too have a career in the party.
Tara Krishnaswamy’s views echo in a women party member of the BJP who is seeking party ticket for Lok Sabha election in national capital Delhi.
“We don’t often get to here names of women candidates being considered by the party,” the women party worker of BJP told Financial Express Online on the condition of anonymity, adding that the party has only one woman MP from Delhi in the 16th Lok Sabha.
“The BJP’s list of Lok Sabha candidates announced on Thursday has just 22 women candidates, around 11%. And this figure is even less in case of candidates declared by the Congress party so far,” women rights activist Tara Krishnaswamy told Financial Express Online.
Chayanika Uniyal Panda, head of research department of All India Mahila Congress, says that if someone assumes that a woman can’t win the elections just because she is a woman then she will never be able to prove herself.
“As women, we need to build a constant pressure on the decision makers. We need to tell them that this issue whether women can actually win the elections or not cannot be decided until you give them tickets,” Chayanika Uniyal Panda told Financial Express Online.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee has given 41% tickets to women candidates this time, a record in Indian politics. Her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik has announced that his party Biju Janata Dal will give one third tickets to women candidates for upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.
“It means they have groomed a large number of women to win elections because as ruling parties they just can’t throw away one-third of their seats, ” said Tara Krishnaswamy, adding that if it was just one or two seats here and there then it could have been called symbolism but it shows their seriousness.