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Rajasthan polls: Given dismal representation of women across parties, it will take 300-plus years to bring gender parity

Exit polls for the Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018 predicted a clear majority for Congress. Although Rajasthan is among the few states with the highest representation of women in its state Assembly, the state failed to nominate even a single woman candidate in at least 83 Assembly constituencies, an analysis of the final list of candidates shows.

File image of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Twitter/@vasundharabjp

File image of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Twitter/@vasundharabjp

The number of candidates is marginally up at 189 from 166 in 2013 polls, but it's meagre 8.3 percent of the total candidates in the fray in the elections, scheduled to take place on 7 December. In a state with 22 million women voters, that translates to an abysmal ratio of one women candidate every 1.16 lakh women voters.

This is despite the fact that Rajasthan is one of the only two states in India, which currently have a woman serving as the chief minister of the state.

Based on the final list of candidates, Congress tops the list with the party fielding 26 women candidates in the polls. BJP, whose chief ministerial faces is Raje, comes second with 23 women candidates followed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 15 candidates. Former BJP leader Hanuman Beniwal's Rashtriya Loktantrik Party has fielded 11 women candidates followed by nine women candidates each from the Aam Aadmi Party and Independents.

The ratio of women candidates to total candidates since the first Rajasthan Assembly election in 1952, the number of women candidates contesting the election has been increasing, though marginally (it was seven percent in 2008 and 7.9 percent in 2013 and 8.3 percent in 2016). At this rate, it would take another 90 years to reach 20 percent and 315 years to reach a stage where the number of women candidates is equal to that of men.

Number of women candidates in Rajasthan Assembly election has been on the rise, but at current rate, it would take 315 years to reach 50 percent

Number of women candidates in Rajasthan Assembly election has been on the rise, but at the current rate, it would take 315 years to reach 50 percent

The now-lapsed Women's Reservation Bill, which recommended 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, could speed up the process, and bring gender parity sooner. But that depends on whether or not Indian politicians will show maturity and the political will to bring the change.

Though it may be too simplistic a view of electioneering, women candidates tend to be more successful as compared to men candidates. The success ratio of women candidates in 2008 was 18 percent, and 16.9 percent in 2013, which is almost double of what was seen during the same period (nine percent in 2008 and 8.6 percent in 2013) among men.


Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 16:05 PM

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