New Delhi, Apr 9 : For most political parties, caste configurations and winnability often helps in selection of candidates for elections, but the representation in Assemblies and Parliament is far less of women who form 49 per cent of total population.
In 2009 elections, only 59 women candidates were able to make it to the Lok Sabha while there was an accretion of two more five years later. Indian National Congress has fielded 13.7 per cent women candidates, 47 out of 344, while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre has put up 45 women out of 374 seats that it is contesting across the nation.
Tamil Nadu-based Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam party, led by RK Nagar legislator TTV Dhinakaran, has not nominated any women candidate for the ensuing elections starting April 11, Thursday. The party is contesting on 38 seats of the southern state, leaving one to its partner Social Democratic Party of India., Dravida Munnetra Kaghazam has fielded only two women candidates.
In Uttar Pradesh, the power house of the Hindi heartland, which has 80 LS constituencies, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Ajit Singh-headed Rashtriya Lok Dal have sealed a pre-poll pact. The SP and BSP are contesting on 37-37 seats while RLD on four, leaving two for Congress that include the pocket boroughs of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's Amethi.
So far in the cow belt state , the BJP has announced a list of 23 candidates but only woman was fielded while the SP has given five tickets women. RLD did not field any women candidate.
All India Trinamool Congress and Biju Janta Dal are the only parties which managed to cross 33 per cent threshold in allottment of the party symbol. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool is banking on 41 per cent women candidates. Out of 42, the party has fielded 17 women nominees. In the case of BJD, out of 18 candidates, six are women constituting 33 per cent of the total tally
Across the nation, Trinamool which gave ticket to 41 per cent women candidates and BJD which put up 33 pc female nominees are being hailed as model political parties in terms of ticket distribution, a representative said.
Females pan-India have formed the National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill whose members visited offices of several political parties to demand at least 33 per cent tickets for female candidates in the ensuing elections.
New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research National Programme coordinator Archana Jha, who led the delegation of women’s groups said, "Political parties use female members to gather crowds in public meetings and increase headcounts during rallies; they make women wear party caps and hold party flags and treat them as second-grade citizens in organisational affairs,especially when it comes to distribution of tickets for contesting elections.
"Women’s groups are showing their discontentment at the low representation of female contestants by national as well as regional political parties," she added.
In Bihar, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal have named one and three women candidates respectively for 40-seats. The polling in the state will be held in seven phases.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has not nominated any woman member while Sharad Pawar-headed Nationalist Congress Party has announced the names of two female candidates.
On the ground
Ranchi-based Indian Institute of Fashion Technology senior faculty Anamika Singh said, "Political parties only make big statements when it comes to women related issues. But when it comes to distribution of tickets, they ignore women. They see women as vote bank only."
Women’s groups visited the party office of BJP, INC, BSP, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), NCP, Aam Aadmi Party and SP.
Through the pattern of ticket distribution to female candidates by all parties, it could clearly be inferred that the political parties have done a mere lip service. Leaders have spoken at public forums in support of the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill, but are not willing to allot them tickets to contest elections. Despite their promises, they disappointed once again.
Women’s groups urge all national and regional political parties to “practice what they preach” and fulfill their promises to women of this country, Ms Jha added.
The election for the 545-seat House of the People will be held in seven phases across the nation, starting April 11, Thursday. The last phase polling will take place on May 19 while the declaration of the mandate is expected four days later. (UNI)