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Women power in Bihar: 34 make it to assembly

November 25, 2010 12:43 IST
Women have bagged their best ever representation in the Bihar assembly in 53 years, having bagged 34 seats in the recent assembly polls.

This was achieved despite the fact that women constituted only 8.74 per cent of the total number of candidates in the fray for the elections in Bihar.

Though they account for nearly half of the total 5.50 crore electorate, women emerged only a pale shadow of their male counterparts in the political landscape.

If the four major political parties -- the ruling Janata Dal-United, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party -- besides the major left parties are taken into account, then the women candidates in the fray numbered just around 90.

The JD-U and BJP fielded the maximum of 24 and 11 women candidates, despite the two major National Democratic Alliance partners setting a model by providing for 50 per cent reservation for women in the panchayati raj institutions and civic bodies.

The RJD and LJP, who opposed the passage of the women's reservation bill in the present form and favoured a quota within quota, put up six and seven candidates, respectively.

The Congress which contested all 243 assembly seats in Bihar fielded 23 women, while the major Left parties – Communist Party of India, CPI-Marxist and CPI-Marxist-Leninist (Liberation) -- fielded three, two and 11, respectively.

"This only speaks of the roadblocks in the progress of women. For them, their secured domain still remains their home and not the battlefield of polity," social activist Nivedita said.

"Curiously, this remains a paradox. On the one hand women have done fairly well and climbed the ladder of success, on the other hand they are mute sufferers of the violence afflicted on them by their own family members," she said.

Except for Independent Jyoti Rashmi, who won from Dehri, the rest of the 34 women candidates who came out with flying colours are from from JD-U (23) and BJP (10).

This is the best performance by women in the last 11 elections in Bihar; in 2005 they had won 25 seats.

In 1957, too, 34 women legislators had won in Bihar.

In the 2000 assembly polls, the total number of women legislators was 15; 12 in 1995; 13 in 1990; 15 in 1985; 13 each in 1980, 1977 and 1972; just four in 1969; 10 in 1967; and 25 in 1962.

Riding the crest of the NDA's wave were the JD-U's Praveen Amanullah, Bima Bharati, Lessi Singh, Guljar Devi, Punam Devi, Neeta Choudhary, Guddi Devi, Ranju Gita, Jagmato Devi, Manorma Devi, Annu Shukla, Manju Verma, Usha Sinha, Jyoti Devi, Renu Kumari, Meena Dwivedi, Razia Khatoon, Poonam Devi Yadav, Purnima Yadav, Sujata Devui, Manju Hazari, Amla Devi and Sunita.

Similarly, the BJP's Sukhda Pandey, Asha Devi, Renu Devi, Bhagirathi Devi, Devyanti Yadav, Dilmarni Devi, Asha Devi, Usha Vidyarthi, Munni Devi and Veena Devi romped home.

Not a single woman candidate from the other political parties, including the RJD, Congress, LJP or the Left parties, could win in these elections.

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