New Delhi: Over the decades, the number of women politicians and those who aspire to join ‘Politics’ has gone up significantly. But, their struggle to capture a prominent place in Indian politics continues. Assembly elections in five Indian states- Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur saw many women contesting and a considerable number made it to their respective assemblies. But, questions remain- Shall they get at the top in Indian politics by getting a position of CM, Deputy CM, Cabinet Minister, or even leader of Opposition?
Women voters were at the top during the Assembly elections. In Uttarkhand they voted more than men. In Uttar Pradesh also women voted for the ruling party and rose above caste, community, religion, rural and urban divide. Sentiments and policies dominated the voting patterns. The Central and UP Government had introduced several women-centric schemes. Upper caste, rural, and rich women supported the BJP in large number compared to their men. These trends and Assembly results underline the power of women as voters and a silver lining for women politicians in India. With diminishing role of caste and religion, political parties would gradually realise the power of women politicians and their participation in governance.
Thirteen of the 93 women who contested the Punjab polls tasted victory and 11 of them belong to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which registered a landslide win bagging 92 of the 117 assembly seats. Woman candidates from Congress and SAD have one seat each. AAP candidate Jeevan Jyot Kaur defeated two veterans. She secured her victory against PPCC President Navjot Singh Sidhu and Bikram Singh Majithia in Punjab Assembly polls, in Amritsar.
“Bhagwant Mann would be the Chief Minister of Punjab as declared earlier. People of Punjab especially women voters would be thrilled if a giant killer Jeevan Jyot Kaur is considered for the post of deputy CM by the party,” said Sujata Pandey, Political Analyst, Media Panelist, and Women’s Right Activist. Pandey is known for her in-depth exploration of political agendas concerning women’s empowerment.
Women have emerged as a prominent force in Uttarakhand politics. There are eight women MLAs, the highest-ever in the state. Also, women outnumbered men in voting in 53 of the 70 constituencies. Former Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s daughter Anupama Rawat was a giant killer. Anupama Rawat won from Haridwar rural where she defeated cabinet minister Yatishwaranand by 4,472 votes. Her victory from the seat is creditable as she was a poll debutante pitted against an experienced opponent.
“What is wrong in considering another giant killer Anupama Rawat as a Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand, if Congress believes in empowering women? Such moves can justify the party’s stand on women’s reservation in politics. Similarly, there should be an adequate number of women ministers in Uttar Pradesh Cabinet and a woman deputy CM,” added Pandey who firmly believes that woman politicians and lawmakers can play a critical role in nation-building.
In all, various political parties had fielded 560 women candidates across 403 seats. This is the maximum number of women candidates who entered the poll battles since Independence. Against this number, only 7.3% could win. Congress’s implementation of its promise to give 40% party tickets to women candidates brought the issue of reservation for women to the fore during the Uttar Pradesh assembly poll. In 2017, various parties had given tickets to 482 women.
According to data from the Election Commission of India, In Uttar Pradesh, 41 women MLAs were elected this time. In terms of political parties, 25 winners this time belong to the ruling BJP, while 13 are from the Samajwadi Party. Two others were from Apna Dal and one from Congress.
The number of winners is only 10.17% of the total public representatives in the house. According to Sujata Pandey, this loss can easily be compensated by making them part of governance with prominent positions. UP has given powerful women leaders including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and two women CM- Sucheta Kripalani (1963-1967) and four-term chief minister Mayawati]. Pandey said that the state otherwise failed to give adequate representation to women over the years in the state legislature, Parliament and the council of ministers. Now, a woman Deputy CM and a few cabinet births would eventually pave the way for them.
first published:March 15, 2022, 8:47 p.m.