Rajasthan polls: Parties to give women a fair deal?

The Times of India

11 October 2013

JAIPUR: Changing scenarios and increasing awareness are expected to an enhanced representation of women in the forthcoming state assembly elections. 

If the trends and statements of senior leaders of the political parties in the state are taken into consideration, BJP and Congress are expected to field the largest number of women candidates than ever. While the women's wing of the state PCC has demanded that 33% of the total candidates should be women, the Mahila Morcha of BJP too is not far behind. 

Senior members of both the party, however, admitted that the final list of candidates is not likely to have as many women candidates. "For all practical reasons, the party is likely to include at least one woman candidate in each of the 33 districts in the state. Depending on the winning ability, some districts might have two women candidates but at best, the final figure will be close to onefourth,'' said a senior Congress member. BJP's final list of candidates too is expected to include names of about 40 to 45 women. 

"We have atleast women applying for tickets from each of the constituencies. Our state president Vasundhara Raje, who is also the party's chief ministerial candidate, is herself a woman and this has raised the aspirations of women candidates in BJP. We will definitely have a stronger representation than last time,'' says state Mahila Morcha president Suman Sharma. 

In 2008, 32 women candidates were given tickets by BJP while Congress had women representing the party on only 20 seats. Of these, 13 each BJP and Congress won the elections. Two women candidates won as independents, bringing the count of women legislators at the Rajasthan Assembly to 28. The ratio of women winning the polls was better for Congress than BJP. While only close to 41% of the women candidates of BJP won, for the ruling party, it was close to 65%. 

The only woman candidate in Jaipur during the 2008 assembly elections was BJP's Manju Sharma, who contested and lost from Hawa Mahal constituency. More women are expected to contest from Jaipur this time. While names of Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma and Jaipur mayor Jyoti Khandelwal are doing the rounds for Malviya Nagar and Kishanpole constituencies ; speculations are on that Suman Sharma will contest from Malviya Nagar, Neeta Khaitan from Aadarsh Nagar, Manju Sharma or Diya Kumari from Hawa Mahal along with Saroj Kumari from Vidhayadhar Nagar and Jhotwara. 

At a time when the move for reservation of seats for women has found support from all political parties, more and more women members of BJP and Congress are seeking tickets. While Congress boasts of more than 400 applications from women, BJP claims to have received over 500 applications for the 200 constituencies.

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