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Uttarakhand: Women candidates get raw deal
Deepti Saxena in Dehra Dun | February 06, 2007 10:46 IST
Men have got preference over women in the distribution of tickets by ruling Congress, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties for the February 21 Assembly elections in Uttarkhand.
The Congress, which is ironically led by a woman, has given tickets to only five women out of its total 70 candidates.
The ruling party had given six tickets to women in the last Assembly elections and promised to give them more representation this time.
Out of the five women that Congress fielded, two could just find their place in the list because both were ministers and one was the wife of Satpal Maharaj, a powerful state leader and the other being a loyalist of Chief Minister N D Tiwari.
Uttarakhand women Congress chief Shanti Juwantha had contested the last Assembly election from Purola, though unsuccessfully. This time she lobbied hard and eventually succeeded in getting party's ticket for her son Rajesh.
"Gender is not the issue. We have considered only merit of our candidates," said PCC chief Harish Rawat adding the party would try to give more tickets to the women in the next Assembly elections.
Ditto is the case with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is contesting all the 70 seats. The saffron brigade has fielded only seven women candidates.
"Congress has given only seven percent of the total seats to women. We are much ahead with 10 percent," said state BJP spokesman Vishwas Dawar.
Sushila Balooni is the top leader of the Uttarakhand separate statehood movement.
Balooni joined BJP five years ago in the hope of entering the Vidhan Sabha. However, she did not find her name in the BJP list.
Instead, Ganesh Joshi, a contractor, was given preference over her from Rajpur assembly seat.
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, a key regional party, which draws its strength mainly from women voters, has also fielded only four women though the party is contesting 64 seats. "Only five women had applied for UKD's tickets. We selected four of them," said Shivanand Chamoli, UKD spokesman.
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, too, could repose confidence in just two women.
Most of the party leaders are satisfied with the lists.
Uttarakhand Woman's Commission chairperson Santosh Chauhan said parties completely ignore the claims of women in ticket distributions. "Though all the political parties pay lip service to the cause of women and talk of giving one third representation to them, they completely ignore their claims in ticket distributions," said Chauhan.