Only 7.8% women candidates in Assam electoral battle
Guwahati, April 4 (IANS): Only 7.8 per cent women candidates are among the total 946 contestants in fray for the 126-member Assam Assembly elections, leading to discontent among female activists and writers.
According to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade, of the total 946 candidates, 74 are women, while, out of the overall 2,33,74,087 voters, 1,15,50,403 are females.
He said out of the 33,530 polling stations set up for the three phases (March 27, April 1, and April 6) of the polls across the state, 1,351 are all managed by women.
The third and the final phase of polling will be held in 40 seats on April 6.
Despite the women being 49.41 per cent of the total numbers of voters, only 74 female (7.8 per cent) candidates, including 23 Independent, are in the fray.
In the 2016 Assam Assembly elections, 91 women candidates were in the fray, with eight of them being elected.
In 2011, 85 women had tried their electoral fate and 14, the highest so far in the House, were successful.
The opposition Congress, which has formed a 10-party ‘Mahajot’ (Grand Alliance) to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance, has put up nine women candidates in these polls.
Its electoral partners, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), have fielded one women candidate each.
In the 2016 polls, the Congress had fielded 16 women candidates.
The principal opposition party this time has fielded a total of 95 candidates allotting the remaining seats to its allies.
The ruling BJP has nominated seven women candidates, one more than that during the 2016 polls, while its alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) like that of previous elections has put up two female nominees.
The BJP, which has fielded total 93 candidates, is contesting the elections in alliance with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), besides its old ally AGP.
The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), a newly formed party, has fielded seven women candidates while the other new party Raijor Dal has given ticket to one.
The AJP and Raijor Dal nominees are contesting as Independent candidates.
Besides, several female activists and women rights bodies, renowned Assam-based writers Tapati Baruah Kashyap and Ratna Bharali Talukdar have expressed strong resentment over the number of candidates.
Kashyap, a renowned Guwahati-based award-winning writer and an advocate of women’s rights, said women have the capability to govern the society but they are not properly represented in politics and governance.
“Because ours is a patriarchal society, men continue to dominate in every sphere of the society and government. This can be termed as neglect of women and the failure to recognise their ability. There are numerous instances where women have performed better than men in many areas, including education,” she told IANS.
Kashyap, who has written 12 books and won several prestigious awards, said because of the prevailing male-dominated mindset, even policies on women were prepared by men.
“In order to change this situation, women should come forward in large numbers to transform the mindset of our male-dominated culture.” Meanwhile, Talukdar, a famed writer and executive editor of online magazine Nezine, said that women have always been in the forefront in Assam, be it the identity movements or political mobilisations including election rallies.
“Ironically, the women continue to be deprived of getting proportionate representations in the state Assembly. Women have demonstrated their efficiency and expertise in governance in panchayats bodies where 50 per cent seats are reserved for them. They have also demonstrated their efficiency as ministers and legislators,” Talukdar told IANS.
She said that a minimum of 33 per cent seats of the state Assemblies must be reserved for women.
“Patriarchal mindset of leaders of political parties is posing hurdles in women getting adequate representation in the state Assembly.”