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Lok Sabha polls: Less than 5% women candidates in Haryana

Chandigarh, May 9, 2019-

In the patriarchal state of Haryana, political parties are not fair with the fairer sex when it comes to the parliamentary elections. Only nine women were elected to Parliament so far.

Eleven women (4.9 per cent) of the total 223 candidates are in the fray among 1.80 crore registered electors, including 83,40,173 women.

No woman figures in the list of candidates of state’s oldest regional party — the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), an alliance partner with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of the INLD, even as the fairer sex constitutes 46 per cent (83,40,173) of the total electorate.

However, the newly floated JJP has a lone woman candidate out of the seven seats it is contesting. The AAP is in fray on the remaining three seats.

There are 10 parliamentary seats in the state, where polling will be held on May 12 in the sixth phase.

The Congress has fielded two women candidates — Kumari Selja from Ambala (reserved) and Shruti Choudhry from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh — and interestingly both are from political dynasties.

BJP’s lone woman ‘warrior’ is Sunita Duggal, a former Indian Revenue Service (IRS)officer, from Sirsa (reserved).

The BSP-Loktantra Suraksha Party alliance has fielded Raj Bala Saini from Sonepat and Shashi Saini from Kurukshetra. Both are contesting from rebel Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Raj Kumar Saini’s Loktantra Suraksha Party.

Dushyant Chautala-led JJP has a lone woman candidate Swati Yadav, 30, from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh. She is the youngest woman contesting the polls among major parties.

An electrical engineering pass-out from Clemson University and an MBA from Georgia Tech University, both in the US, Swati has reasons for joining politics.

“I want to see India providing equal opportunities to both the men and the women,” she told IANS.

A Fellow with the Department-cum-Centre for Women’s Studies and Development of Panjab University in Chandigarh says both the BJP and the Congress promise 33 per cent women’s reservation in the state assembly. When it comes to the parliamentary polls, both have handed out a raw deal to the fairer sex in giving nomination.

“Women, especially in rural areas, are more active in Haryana than men, be it in the fields or while tending to livestock,” he told IANS.

Interestingly, six women candidates have plunged into the electoral battle this time, not for their political cause, but for cause of their kin.

Four of these mothers — Kiran Choudhary, Renuka Bishnoi, Prem Lata and Naina Chautala — are sitting legislators in the state assembly themselves. The other two — Asha Hooda and Kanta Chautala — come from the well-established political dynasties of Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Om Prakash Chautala respectively. They are being part of the campaigning in these elections.

Naina Chautala, the first woman from the Chautala clan to contest and win an assembly election in 2014 after her husband and father-in-law, Ajay Chautala and O.P. Chautala respectively, were convicted and imprisoned in January 2013 for the junior basic teacher recruitment scam, is a force to reckon with.

Her ‘Hari Chunari ki Chaupal’, a campaign to mobilise women voters for the JJP floated by her sons — Dushyant and Digvijay Chautala — after severing political ties with the INLD, has been quite a hit in the state, especially in rural belts.

State Congress President Ashok Tanwar believes the party gave due representation to the women in the Lok Sabha polls.

“As compared to other parties, we allotted tickets to two women candidates. Our party President Rahul Gandhi has interacted with women groups and their issues adequately found space in the Congress national manifesto,” he told IANS.

BJP’s state President Subhash Barala said: “Winnability was the criterion while allocating tickets. While we have women contenders from all seats, the ticket is given to the candidate who can win.”

Dalbir Kaur, sister of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore hospital after a brutal attack on him in 2013, had sought a BJP ticket for contesting elections from Haryana’s Sirsa.

Tracing the history of state’s patriarchal mindset, of the 131 members of Parliament elected from the state since Haryana came into being in 1966, only nine women were elected to Parliament.

Of them, Kumari Selja was elected four times — twice each from Ambala and Sirsa; Kailasho Saini twice from Kurukshetra; Chandrawati, Shruti Choudhry and Sudha Yadav represented Bhiwani, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh and Mahendergarh seats once, respectively.

The constituencies of Karnal, Rohtak, Hisar, Faridabad, Gurugram and Sonepat have never sent a woman to Parliament.

In these elections, there is no woman candidate from Karnal, Hisar and Gurugram. There is no Independent woman candidate in the fray. The highest number of three women candidate is contesting from Kurukshetra, which has a total of 24 candidates.

In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Congress had fielded one woman candidate, while the BJP did not field any woman candidate. In total, there were 10 women candidates in the fray out of 230 candidates.

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