Is nari shakti all talk? BJP, Cong, AAP chose winning over women candidates

Among all the promises during this election campaign in Delhi, one particular aspect which has trumped all else is the commitment to ‘nari shakti’ (women empowerment). However, when it comes to ticket distribution, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have miserably failed to live up to their promise.

Shibaji Roychoudhury February 02, 2015 15:20:33 IST
Is nari shakti all talk? BJP, Cong, AAP chose winning over women candidates

New Delhi: Among all the promises during this election campaign in Delhi, one particular aspect which has trumped all else is the commitment to ‘nari shakti’ (women empowerment). However, when it comes to ticket distribution, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have miserably failed to live up to their promise.

Out of a total of 673 candidates contesting the Delhi polls, only 63 are female candidates. The BJP, which is leading its campaign with former cop Kiran Bedi, has only fielded eight women candidates. The AAP and the Congress have done no better with six women candidates and five women contestants respectively.

Is nari shakti all talk BJP Cong AAP chose winning over women candidates

Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi are two of the 63 women candidates or the Delhi Assembly Election. PTI

In 2013 assembly elections, these parties had given tickets to 17 female candidates out of which only three had won. It is worth mentioning that all the winning candidates were from the AAP.

Asked about the lack of female faces in the election, a senior BJP leader in Delhi revealed that female candidates usually lose election contests. "The BJP hasn't won more than one or two odd seats out of the six or eight constituencies where female candidates have contested in the past," he said.

However, party president Satish Upadhyay admitted that more work is required at the grassroots level to encourage better female representation. Former chief minister candidate of the BJP, Dr Harshvardhan emphasised that creating reservations for female seats, similar to the municipal corporation is one way of ensuring better female representation for the party.

Though only eight, but the saffron party has fielded female candidates from key constituencies. Its chief minister candidate, Kiran Bedi will be contesting from the Krishna Nagar constituency, a stronghold of the BJP. Former Union minister, Krishna Tirath, who recently joined the BJP from the Congress, is contesting from the Patel Nagar constituency while former Delhi University Student’s Union president Nupur Sharma will take on AAP's CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal from the New Delhi constituency.

In addition to that, three sitting councillors, Rajni Abbi is contesting from Timarpur, Rekha Gupta is contesting from Shalimar Bagh and former South Delhi Mayor, Sarita Choudhary is contesting from Mehrauli.

There are also couple of first-time contestants, MLA Sunil Vaidya's wife Kiran Vaidya will contest from the key seat of Trilokpuri after his sudden demise, BJP's Nandini Sharma will debut against former Law Minister Somnath Bharti and Congress veteran Yoganand Shastri in the Malviya Nagar constituency.

Distancing itself from being called a conventional political party, the AAP may have kept women safety and empowerment at the top of their agenda, but even they have failed to field women candidates in equal proportion to their male counterparts.

Though Kejriwal didn’t have a concrete answer on the lack of female candidates, he assured that for the next elections in Delhi, people can expect at least one-third of the ratio of be female candidates.

The AAP has fielded Sarita Singh for Rohtas Nagar, Bhawna Gaur for Palam, Bandana Kumari for Shalimar Bagh, former Congress member Alka Lamba from Chandni Chowk and Pramila Tokas for RK Puram.

Fielding the least number of female candidates, just five out of 70, Congress leaders, unlike the BJP and the AAP are staying away from pretention. Admitting and acknowledging the lack of female candidates, party chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said that the Congress wanted to field at least 12-15 women candidates, but since it’s going to be a tough contest, the party had to go with potentially winnable candidates as compared to female ones.

An interesting aspect in the distribution of ticket to female candidates, especially when it comes to the Congress is that only those with either their husbands or father-in-laws in the party have managed to get a ticket from the party.

Among their short list of female candidates, President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter, Sharmishtha Mukherjee will make her debut from the Greater Kailash constituency. Her nomination reveals that Congress is trying to capture the vote bank of Chitaranjan Park where the Bengali population is likely to vote for her.

In addition to that, Meenakshi Chandela, who is the daughter-in-law of former MLA Dayanand Chandela, will be contesting from Rajouri Garden and Former MLA Rambir Shokeen's wife Reeta Shokeen is the contestant from Mundka. The only contestant who seems to be contesting for her own credibility is former Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia. Rinku, a sitting councilor from Nand Nagri, will contest from Gokalpur.

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