Haryana fields record number of women this poll

Assembly elections: Political parties buck trend in state's 48-year-old history

When it comes to women leaders in representative politics, Haryana has little to flaunt, with political parties not preferring to field women candidates in elections.

This election, the trend has witnessed a change of sorts, promising a new beginning, to say the least.

Prominent political parties in Haryana this time have fielded double the number of women candidates since the 2009 Assembly elections. Their number this time is 109, the highest since Haryana was carved out 48 years ago.

In the fray are wives and kin of top politicians, including the sister of Union minister Sushma Swaraj, who are hoping to make their electoral debut a success.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) have fielded 15 women candidates in this election. The BJP had fielded six women in 2009, while the INLD had fielded seven.

This is also the first election the Chautala family has preferred to field a woman to contest the elections. Naina Singh, wife of jailed MLA and Om Prakash Chautala’s elder son Ajay, is in fray from the Dabwali Assembly segment in Sirsa.

Sushma Swaraj’s younger sister Vandana Sharma, a retired principal, is making her electoral debut from the Safidon constituency.

Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldeep Bishnoi’s wife, Renuka, is seeking re-election from the Hansi constituency in Hisar.

Shakti Rani, wife of former Union minister Vinod Sharma and mother of the jailed Manu Sharma—convicted in the infamous Jessica Lal murder case—is contesting for the first time as a candidate of her husband’s newly formed Jan Chetna Party.  

Veteran politician Birender Singh, who switched over to the BJP after 42 years in the Congress, has managed a ticket for his wife, Prem Lata, from Uchana Kalan, where she is locked in a fierce contest with OP Chautala’s grandson Dushyant, one of the youngest MPs.  The upcoming elections have also thrown up some interesting statistics. Former Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s mother Savitri, one of country’s richest women, is contesting on a Congress ticket.

Independent candidate Ranjita Kaushik has declared that her assets are only Rs 500 in cash. The 41-year-old says she used this money to open her bank account.

Haryana does not have an encouraging record when it comes to electing women to the state Assembly. The best showing was in 2005, when the number of women MLAs went up to 11. In 2000, the number was just four. There are nine women MLAs in the outgoing Assembly.

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