Poonam Kumari | Ground Report
Final days of Delhi elections are here with polling closing on February 8, 2020, and results to be declared three days later on February 11. Consequently, political parties have become exuberant and are exerting more energy into the last legs of their respective campaigns. While supporters are busy sloganeering for their favourite candidates, noticeably women names are mostly missing from those slogans.
Women have made Indian polity very strong with some unfathomable individual legacies to take inspiration from. And yet, they don’t get the respect they deserve and are mostly denied of their rightful share across political parties. The story seems no different for the current Delhi polls. Let’s have a look at how parties fare in this regard for the ongoing polls:
Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
BJP, which claims to be the largest political party in the world, has fielded candidates for 67 constituencies out of total 70 seats. Among these 67, there are only seven female candidates.
Rekha Gupta from Shalimar Bagh, Suman Kumar Gupta from Chandni Chowk, Lata Sodhi from Ballimaran, Shikha Rai from Greater Kailash, Kiran Vaidya from Trilok Puri, Smt Sumanlata Shaukeen from Nangloi Jat and Kusum Khatri from Mehrauli. Further, BJP has listed 40 star campaigners for the polls, among which only three are women. Namely, Smriti Irani, Meenakshi Lekhi and Hema Malini.
Indian National Congress (INC)
INC has only seven female candidates in the assembly poll race out of total 70 candidates it has fielded. Amar Lata Sangwan from Timarpur, Alka Lamba from Chandni Chowk, Radhika Khera from Janakpuri, Neetu Verma from Malviya Nagar, Priyanka Singh from R. K. Puram, Poonam Azad from Sangam Vihar and Shivani Chopra from Kalkaji.
However, the party fares just fine when it comes to star campaigners. INC has listed total ten women campaigners out of 40, reflecting comparatively better position than BJP. This might be partly owing to two female stalwarts from the Gandhi Family, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Joining them are Meira Kumar, Ranjeet Ranjan, Sushmita Dev, Sharmishtha Mukherjee, Nagma Morarji, Ragini Nayak, Kushboo Sundar and Sadhna Bharti.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
The ruling party, AAP, has total six women representatives in the outgoing assembly composition. Out of 70 candidates that AAP has fielded for the ongoing elections, eight are women. Though the number is low, it is the highest among the three major parties.
Rakhi Bidlan from Mangol Puri, Bandana Kumari from Shalimar Bagh, Dhanwati Chandela from Rajouri Garden, Rajkumari Dhillon from Hari Nagar, Bhavna Gaur from Palam, Parmila Tokas from R. K. Puram, Atishi Marlena from Kalkaji and Sarita Singh from Rohtas Nagar.
However, the party has enlisted just six women as part of its contingent of 39 star campaigners. While the number is better than that of BJP, it is less compared to INC.
Atishi Marlena, Preeti Sharma Menon, Rakhi Birla, Rekha Rani, Shahnaz Akhtar and Nirmala Kumari are AAP’s star women campaigners.
Most of the female candidates selected by these three parties are known faces, including the campaigners list. These numbers reinforce the still dysfunctional stature of women across all stages of Indian politics.
Seventeenth Lok Sabha has 78 women as Members of Parliament (MPs), the highest ever in the Indian electoral history. While many of them have marked their presence in the field, it is not even half of 33 per cent — the share of seats aimed for women in the Parliament through the Women’s Reservation Bill. “Ache din” for women in Indian politics is far from real and remains a dream to be pursued.