78 LS MPs: New record, more power for women

The giant killer among the women MPs is Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. (AFP File Photo)

The new Lok Sabha will be opening its innings with a new record -- it will have the highest number of women MPs with 78 of the 726 candidates romping home comfortably.

It has improved the 2014 figure of 61, also a record then, that has jumped to 65 at one point following more women winning bypolls during the last five years.

While in 2009, there were 59 women MPs, their number was 45 in 2004 and 49 in 1999. The least number of women in the Lok Sabha were in 1957, which were 22.

The giant killer among the women MPs is Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, while other prominent winners include UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, BJP's Pragya Thakur and Maneka Gandhi, NCP's Supriya Sule and DMK's Kanimozhi besides Sumalatha, an independent from Karnataka.

Among the prominent losers are Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev, Trinamool Congress' Moon Moon Sen, and Congress' Ranjeet Ranjan. BJP's Vadodara winner Ranjanaben Bhatt had won of the seat with 5,89,177 votes, the highest among women candidates.

Around 13.53% of BJP winners are women – 41 out of 303 -- while Trinamool Congress has 9 women among its 22 winners and BJD five out of 12 MPs. The numbers have risen basically due to Trinamool Congress and BJD fielding at least 33% women as its candidates.

Congress has six women winners while YSR Congress has four. Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, NCP, Apna Dal, NPP and BSP too have one each woman MP.

Among the states, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has sent the highest number of 11 each women MPs followed by Maharashtra (8) and Odisha (7). Gujarat (6), Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (4 each) and Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (3 each). Karnataka has two women MPs in Shoba Karandlaje (BJP) and Sumalatha.

“The representation of women MPs in Lok Sabha is slowly improving from 5% in the 1st Lok Sabha to 14 % in the 17th Lok Sabha. Though the percentage of women MPs has increased over the years, it is still lower in comparison to some countries. These include Rwanda (61%), South Africa (43%), UK (32%), USA (24%), Bangladesh (21%),” an analysis by PRS Legislative Research said.

This election has seen a rise in the number of women candidates by 8.38% while the number of male candidates have slipped by 4.7% compared to the 2014 elections. While there were 668 women candidates in 2014 polls, it rose to 724 this time while for men, it declined from 7,577 to 7,215.

Of this, 78 (11%) women candidates had serious criminal cases charges against them this time, as against 51 (8%) last time. Two of them are convicted candidates while four have murder charges against them, 16 have attempt to murder and 14 crime against women. Also, 255 (36%) were crorepatis

An analysis National Alliance for Women's Reservation Bill during the recent Lok Sabha campaign has shown that 15 prominent parties have given around 13% seats to women. While TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK did not field a single woman, Shiv Sena and AIADMK are also among the "worst in terms of ticket distribution" to women. Shiv Sena fielded just woman out of a total of 22 candidates while AIADMK had one out of 21.

Trinamool Congress has fielded 40.5% women (17/42) as its candidate while BJD has fielded 33% women as its nominees.

Centre for Social Research National Program Coordinator Archana Jha, who led a delegation of National Alliance for Women's Reservation Bill to parties demanding their commitment for the quota law, said, parties use female members for gathering crowd in public meetings and increasing headcounts during rallies.

"They make women wear party caps and hold party flags and treat them as second-grade citizens in party affairs, especially when it comes to the distribution of tickets for contesting elections. We demand immediate passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill by the next government to change this trend," Centre for Social Research National Program Coordinator Archana Jha had then said.

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