Women get a raw deal in bid for Karnataka Assembly

Motamma

Though all three major political parties in the state — the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S) — claim that they are committed to providing adequate representation to women, the fairer sex is getting a raw deal as far as the state Assembly is concerned.

During every election, these parties make it a point to declare that they are in favour of the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to provide 33% reservation to women in state Assemblies and Parliament. But when it comes to fielding candidates, they do not show the same commitment towards accommodating women.

Karnataka, despite being a progressive state, has seen fewer women being given opportunities in the political arena. Women are actively discouraged from entering politics, mainly owing to prevalent patriarchal tendencies. As money plays a major role in determining political prospects of an individual, women are becoming silent observers of the state politics.



The result being that less than 2% to 3% of women have represented electoral politics in Karnataka. The state has witnessed very few women in decision-making roles, either in their respective parties or in the administration. And no woman has ever made it to the post of the chief minister so far.

Political parties, too, get away by giving poor representation to women during elections. In the 2013 Assembly elections, the Congress had fielded only 11 women, while the JD(S) and the BJP had given tickets to 9 and 7 women, respectively.

Interestingly, women fared better in politics in the state between the late 1950s and 1970s. While 19 women were elected as MLAs in 1957; in 1962, 18 women entered the state Assembly.

The trend, however, started losing steam from the 1980s, when the numbers were reduced to a single digit. Even today, unfortunately, it continues to remain so.

Congress leader and former minister Motamma said that she had kept away from electoral politics after the 2004 Assembly polls as she did not have the financial resources. “I didn’t even get any support from my female counterparts as there is no unity among women. We are not as aggressive as the men when it comes to fighting for our rights,” she added.

Former minister Leeladevi R Prasad said that a woman’s success in politics hinges on caste and money.

“I contested elections with a mere Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. I was responsible for my own victories and losses. But in the later years, both money and caste came to the fore — I was defeated by my own partymen,” she said.

Former minister and social activist B T Lalitha Naik said that women continue to be subjugated and objectified. Though she exited from the JD(S) for ideological reasons, she said that her male counterparts had sidelined her as she couldn’t “fund” her own elections.

 

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