Where Are the Women in the Delhi Elections?
Delhi's political parties promise security but do not think it is worth fielding women in these ele
NEW DELHI: For all the talk and tamaasha about women safety being paramount for them, the three prominent political parties contesting the Delhi Assembly elections , are fielding only 19 female candidates combined.
BJP, AAP, and Congress have fielded just 19 women amongst the 210 candidates who will be contesting the polls on their tickets. This is despite all the spirited championing of women’s rights, safety, and equality by the top leaders of these parties .
Of the three parties, BJP has fielded the maximum number of women candidates in that eight women have been given party nominations. AAP is fielding six women, and the Congress party that claims to be wedded to the Women’s Reservation bill is last with just five women candidates.
Despite the miserable number, the BJP actually is trying to take credit for topping the list. "We have fielded maximum number of women candidates in comparison with AAP and BJP. We have always advocated reservation for women too”, said Ashwini Upadhyay, spokesperson Delhi BJP.
However, he added “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”. This is the excuse that all political parties have been giving for decades now, with no explanation as to why they do not take affirmative action to ensure that more and more women are brought into politics.
The eight women candidate fielded by BJP include 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, homoeopathic practitioner Nandini Sharma from Malviya Nagar and former South Delhi mayor Sarita Chaudhary from Mehrauli.
Krishna Tirath defected to the BJP last month from Congress after being the Minister for Social Welfare, SC & Stand Labour & Employment during Sheila Dikshit’s chief ministership.
Next to BJP is the Aam Aadmi Party, which has fielded six women candidates including Rakhi Bidlan, Bandna Kumari, Saritha Singh, Alka Lamba, Pramila Tokas and Bhavna Gaur.
While Bidlan 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.
At the bottom of this very low scoring fray is the Congress, which is fielding five women candidates in total. Sharmistha Mukherjee, President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter, and Kiran Walia, Ex-Mayor of Delhi, are the two most prominent faces contending from the oldest political party of the country.
Other women nominees of the Congress include Rita Shokeen, Meenakshi Chandela and Municipal Councillor Rinku.
Rita Shokeen, an MLA from Narela Ward Zone, joined Congress last month, changing her independent status.
The candidature pattern is far from one which can lay any claim to equal representation of both sexes.
According to the electoral rolls, 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. Of 673 candidates in total, only 66 are women.
The leader from parties cited being restrained from various competing factors for the selection of the candidate. One such factor was of “winnability”.
AAP leader Rakhi Bidlan, 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”, she added.
And this is enough? For political parties who are all screaming about women’s empowerment, women’s safety and security?