How Polls in UP Saw More Women Leading, but Still Trailing in Numbers
A look at the number of women candidates contesting in 2017 Assembly Elections – and the figures tell a dismal story.
Samajwadi Party MP Dimple Yadav (right) with sister-in-law and party candidate Aparna Yadav at an election rally in Lucknow. (Photo: PTI)
New Delhi:The last day of polling in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections falls on the International Women’s Day – March 8th. The occasion is ripe to chew on some numbers, that is, how many women candidates have contested in 2017, the figures tell a dismal story.
Going by the data sourced from Election Commission of India and analysed by the Association of Democratic Reforms, there is a fall in the number of women candidates from the last poll of 2012. But there is a percentage rise in the number of women candidates contesting in Uttar Pradesh 2017 elections.
According to the data sourced from the Election Commission of India, and the analysis by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) out of 4,822 candidates analysed there are 445 (9.16%) women candidates contesting in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election this year. And out of 6,839 candidates analysed in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2012, 583 were women candidates (8.5%).
Nilesh Ekka, Senior Researcher and Functional Analyst Association for Democratic Reforms, said, “Lower number of women candidates mean that the parties are not giving enough tickets to women and representation of women is therefore low.”
He added, “The percentage is subjective depending upon the total number of seats a party is contesting on. In my opinion, the more the number of females contesting the higher their chances of winning.”
Further, it reveals that out of total number of candidates analysed as Independents (1,453) there are 132 Independent women candidates this time, as opposed to 120 in 2012 and 126 in 2007 UP Assembly elections.
Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded highest number of women candidates in 2017. Out of 383 total analysed candidates there are 44 women candidates by the BJP. The party had 44 women candidates contesting in 2012 and 34 in 2007 Assembly polls.
Mriganka Singh, BJP candidate from Kairana, said, “I was fortunate to get overwhelming response from the people because of my father's political legacy. He has been in the field for 40 years. I inherited a lot from his political legacy. It would have been difficult for me if I was without this kind of backing. This is a harsh reality; though, I see the conservative mindset of the people changing.”
After BJP, Samajwadi Party has given maximum tickets to women candidates, which is 33; there were 25 women fielded by Rashtriya Lok Dal, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj party has given tickets to 19 women candidates, and Indian National Congress gave ticket to 11 women candidates this time. Some other parties, Apna Dal, CPI (M), Rashtriya Apna Dal and Parcham Party of India have not given any tickets to women candidates this time.
DATA FROM ADR
The first-time woman candidate from Samajwadi Party, Nidhi Yadav, from Handiya constituency in Allahabad, said, “The kind of response women candidates get on campaign trails shows that there are takers for women leaders.”
She is daughter of SP MLC Vasudeva Yadav. “Though some women face patriarchal onslaughts while on campaigns, the only solution to this is to pump more women in political fray. Now we see women in commissions and party organizations, I see a rise in participation there as well,” she added.
Roop Rekha Varma, a social activist in Uttar Pradesh, said that these figures of rise and fall are “incidental” and have nothing much to do with the larger societal trends. She said, “This rise and fall in the number of women candidates and winners is incidental. It has nothing to do with larger social frame. Even today women are not considered reliable for politics. They are considered less capable when it comes to showing physical and monetary strength.”
Adding that majority of women are learning now, she said: “A common woman still cannot put wealth and power in political battle. Even today women with dynastic support enter politics easily than otherwise.”
For her, this time polls had a bright side with heightened women presence in the public domain. “Women leaders actively participated this time than ever before in UP. They were there giving speeches, mobilizing crowds, addressing sabhas. Dimple Yadav had put up a good show of strength,” she said. “Is baar dekha ke himmat badh rahi hai,” Varma signed off.
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