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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Decline in women candidates but female voters outnumber men in Assam

This declining trend in women candidates has been continuing since the 2014 polls when there were 16 female aspirants.
Last Updated : 06 May 2024, 06:54 IST
Last Updated : 06 May 2024, 06:54 IST

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Guwahati: Despite Assam having more women voters, only 12 female candidates are contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, down from the previous count of 14.

These 12 women candidates are competing in seven out of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

Assam has a total electorate of 2,45,72,144 with 1,23,39,241 women voters and 1,23,25,293 male voters.

This declining trend in women candidates has been continuing since the 2014 polls when there were 16 female aspirants.

The ruling BJP has fielded one woman candidate, Bijuli Kalita Medhi, for the prestigious Guwahati seat, while the opposition Congress has nominated Mira Borthakur Goswami in Guwahati and Roselina Tirkey in Kaziranga.

Among the smaller parties, Gana Suraksha Party has given tickets to two women while Hindu Samaj Party, Gana Sangram Parishad, SUCI(C) and Voters Party have given to one each and there are three independents in the fray.

Kaziranga leads with three women candidates, followed by two each in Guwahati and Kokrajhar (ST), and one each in Sonitpur, Darrang-Udalguri, Nagaon, Barpeta, and Dhubri.

In the first phase polls, there were four women candidates, two in the second and six in the third and final phase to be held on May 7.

The number of women candidates representing the state in the Lok Sabha so far has been only 18 since the first general elections in the country and this too has been declining with two candidates in 2014 to one in 2019.

There has been, however, a remarkable increase in the participation of women voters in the polling process, registering 79.92 per cent voting in the first two phases for which elections were held on April 19 and 26.

In the first phase of polls held in five constituencies of Upper Assam, women recorded a higher voter turnout of 78.81 per cent as against male voters 77.69 per cent. In the second phase, also in five seats, women registered 85.55 per cent of votes as against 84.41 per cent by men.

Congress candidate from Guwahati Mira Borthakur Goswami pointed out that while her party gave tickets to two women, the BJP, which passed the Women Reservation Bill in Parliament, gave ticket to only one in the North East.

"The BJP government treats women as a vote bank and has instilled fear in them that if they do not vote for BJP or attend election meetings, then their names will be deleted from schemes," she alleged.

Goswami said she is committed to help women participate in the decision-making process and will work for their 'economic safeguard and security'. Goswami, who is locked in a direct contest with another woman candidate Bijuli Kalita Medhi of the BJP, said though the Guwahati seat is not reserved for women, but since 2009 it has been represented by them.

Medhi, on the other hand, claimed that no previous government has focused on women as the BJP during the last ten years by giving them various benefits, including the 'Orunodoi' scheme of giving a monthly amount of Rs 1,250 to women and encouraging entrepreneurship by providing them funds to become 'Lakhpati Baideos' (Lakhpati Elder Sisters).

She pointed out that the BJP enjoys overwhelming support in the urban areas and this time, women in the rural areas are also very happy as they have benefitted immensely from the various schemes initiated by the BJP governments at both the Centre and in the state.

A women activist pointed out that the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed in Parliament last September but in the first general elections held since its 'historic scripting', none of the major political parties made an effort to give tickets to women candidates anywhere close to the 33 per cent mark.

She said it is indeed a very heartening sight to find long queues of women, including first-time voters and the elderly, outside polling stations, dressed in their best colourful attires, and often outnumbering men in separate queues, but it would have been equally important to see more women candidates in the fray.

Prior to the polls, a group of women’s organisations in the state had prepared a manifesto for women, highlighting the specific issues to be included in the policies of the next government, but most parties have ignored these and concentrated mostly on doling out usual sops for women, without any concrete measures for their actual economic, social and political empowerment.

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Published 06 May 2024, 06:54 IST

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