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Chhattisgarh: More women get BJP poll ticket

Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi in Raipur | November 16, 2008 16:44 IST

Though the bill providing 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies is yet to get nod from major political parties, Chhattisgarh polls show that reservation to women in Bharatiya Janata Party cadre has led to more women getting the party ticket.

In the state assembly polls held in 2003, BJP fielded six women candidate for the 90-member assembly. Of these four won and two were made ministers in the Raman Singh government.

In the on-going polls, BJP has fielded nine women candidates. A look at their profile shows that some of them came into prominence in the party cadre after BJP declared 33 per cent reservation for women in organisation posts in January this year.

"After the BJP made 33 per cent reservation for women in party cadre, I was made vice-president of the Chhattisgarh unit," BJP candidate from Kanker Sumitra Markole said.

This facilitated her candidature from the seat as BJP denied the ticket to its sitting MLA Aghan Singh Thakur from the constituency due to non-performance.

However, none of the political parties have reached anywhere near the 33 per cent mark espoused by them in Parliament when the women's reservation bill was tabled for the umpteenth time in the budget session this year.

Congress has fielded 10 women candidates. This is an improvement for the party, which fielded eight women last time. All of them lost in the elections.

Both the Congress and the BJP have been candid in admitting that winnability is the most important criteria and they cannot afford to field a woman candidate if they feel she will lose.

"Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] has said she is for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies. But you cannot field women candidates without considering winnability. Electoral battle is something different," Congress general secretary B K Hariprasad said.

However, most of the women in the fray -- cutting across party lines -- owe their entry into politics to the legacy bequeathed to them by their close kin.

Geeta Devi Singh, Congress candidate from Dongargaon, entered politics as her family members were in politics. Her husband, Surendra Bahadur Singh, was an MP.

Similarly, Saroja Rathore contesting from Shakti constituency on Congress ticket is in the fray as her husband Manhar Rathore was denied ticket since he lost the last time.

BJP also has such women leaders in its list. Pinki Shah, contesting to retain the Sihawa seat, is wife of MLA Shivraj Shah.

Neelam Devi Tekam, BJP candidate from Dondilohra, is wife of sitting MLA Lal Mahendra Singh Tekam. She got the ticket by chance when the nomination form of P R Naik, who was given the ticket in place of Lal Mahendra, was rejected by the Election Commission.

However, both the Congress and the BJP said that the women candidates have been given tickets purely on merit.

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