Parties fail to walk the talk on women's quota

Parties fail to walk the talk on women's quota

Three major parties may field only five to six female candidates.

The BJP and Congress may be in favour of 33 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies. But the two parties do not seem to have given special consideration for women, while distributing tickets for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.

The BJP has declared candidates for 25 seats. For the other three seats - Bidar, Hassan and Bellary - it may announce candidates in a couple of days. The party has fielded former minister Shobha Karandlaje for the Udupi-Chikmagalur seat. At the most, it may field one more woman candidate, Rekha Huliyappa Gowda, to take on JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda in Hassan.

The Congress, which has Sonia Gandhi at the helm of affairs, has fielded two women candidates - Lakshmi Hebbalkar in Belgaum and Ramya in Mandya. It is yet to announce candidates for four constituencies - Dharwad, Haveri, Uttara Kannada and Bangalore North.

In the JD-S’ first list of 13 candidates, there is not a single woman. But, at least one of its candidates will be a woman - Geetha Shivrajkumar from Shimoga.

The name of Anitha Kumaraswamy has been making the rounds for Chikkaballapur and that of Bhavani Revanna for Mandya. Anitha is not keen on contesting after her repeated debacles, while Deve Gowda is not keen on having Bhavani as a candidate.
The Left parties - CPI and CPM - are contesting in at least four seats. But none of these is likely to be a woman.

The Congress, BJP and JD(S), in all, are fielding 84 candidates for 28 constituencies. There may be five to six women candidates from these parties (six per cent). In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the lone woman to win in the State was J Shantha of the BJP from Bellary. In the byelections, film actress Ramya got elected from Mandya.
In Assembly, there are six elected women members and one nominated. Umashree is the lone woman minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet.

Shobha Karandlaje, who has already begun campaigning, said that parties take winnability into consideration as competition is very high in each constituency.
“Women have to prove that they are worth being fielded. Otherwise, they will not be taken seriously. As a minister I did well. That is the reason I have been given the ticket,” she said.

Senior Congress leader Rani Satish said no party takes a firm decision to give a certain number of seats to women, assuming that they cannot win.

“Women leaders should be allowed to contest Assembly elections, so that they can graduate to face Lok Sabha elections. That is not happening. One needs physical and financial confidence to face elections. At present, both are lacking in women,” she said.

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