Women encouraged to exercise mandate but not given chance to contest

Women encouraged to exercise mandate but not given chance to contest

A large number of women voters may have pushed poll percentages to record levels, but their numbers among representatives in the four state Assemblies are nothing to boast about.

Out of the 589 seats that went to the polls in the past few months, women managed to win just 59, lower than the 69 they managed in 2008.  The number of women members declined in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, while Madhya Pradesh improved its tally by three. Parity of sorts existed in Delhi, as the number of women members in the incoming Assembly is the same as the one in the outgoing legislature. There were 6,500 candidates fighting elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, but prominent parties fielded a mere 300 women candidates.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was the biggest name among women candidate to bite the dust, as she was defeated by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.
Delhi sent just three women to the 70-member Assembly. All of them were from the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) while none of the Congress women candidates won, included Minister Kiran Walia, senior MLA Burkha Singh or youth leaders Ragini Nayak or Amrita Dhavan. Former Mayors from BJP Arti Mehra and Rajni Abbi also lost in the 'AAP Tsunami'.

In the capital city, which has a sex ratio of 804, only 69 women candidates were in the fray, down from 2008's 81. The  Congress and AAP fielded six each women and BJP five this time. In the outgoing Assembly, there were three women from the Congress. Rajasthan, with a sex ratio of 897, was the toast for women in 2008 elections with 29 female MLAs out of 200 seats but this time, only 19 women of the 103 (among 2,087 candidates) managed to enter the Assembly.

Of the (nearly) 162 BJP MLAs, 15 are women while there is only one woman among 21 Congress MLAs. The BJP fielded the highest number of 26 women candidates followed by the Congress 23. Chhattisgarh with a sex ratio of 964 also saw a slump in the number of women MLAs this time, which went down to nine from 12. However, the women MLAs include Renu Jogi, wife of Congress strongman Ajit Jogi, and slain Congress leader Mahender Karma's wife Devti Karma. In all, 986 candidates contested the 90 Assembly seats in Chhattisgarh. Of them, 81 were women with the Congress fielding 14 and BJP 11.

Madhya Pradesh with a sex ratio of 897 will be sending 28 women MLAs instead of 25 in the 230-member outgoing Assembly. Of the 2,583 candidates, the prominent parties fielded only 73 women. BJP had fielded 28 women in this election followed by Congress 23 and BSP 22.

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