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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amit Bhelari

Congress, BJP give women short shrift in Bihar; regional parties put up women candidates for Lok Sabha polls

Though all the political parties talk about giving equal representation to women, during ticket distribution in the polls, the talk remains a false promise. This is visible at least in the Lok Sabha poll in Bihar, when both the national parties, the Congress and the BJP, have ignored Aadhi Aabadi (women, half the population) and did not field a single woman candidate in the State.

The picture became clear on Monday when the Congress announced the names of five more candidates for Bihar in which there was no mention of any woman candidate contesting the Lok Sabha polls. In the alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Left parties, along with the Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahani, the Congress has been offered nine seats.

General Elections 2024 | The missing women in Indian politics

The Congress on Tuesday announced its ninth candidate for Patna Sahib seat — Anshul Kumar Avijit, son of former Speaker Meira Kumar.

Going by the fact, the RJD tops the list of giving maximum tickets to women candidates in Bihar, followed by the Janata Dal (United) and the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) two each.

The RJD has fielded six women candidates out of 23 from its quota. When the seat-sharing took place, the RJD had kept 26 seats of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, leaving nine for the Congress and five for the Left parties. However, last week, the RJD made a deal with Mr. Sahani and gave three seats to the VIP from its quota. Even the VIP did not give any ticket to women candidates in three seats the party has been given, which are Gopalganj, Janjharpur and Motihari.

RJD candidates

The six RJD candidates who are contesting this election are Misa Bharti from Patliputra, Rohini Acharya from Saran, Ritu Jaiswal from Sheohar, Anita Devi from Munger, Bima Bharti from Purnea and Archana Ravidas from the reserved seat of Jamui.

In the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the BJP is contesting in 17 seats, the JD(U) in 16, the LJP-(RV) in 5 and one each to Hindustani Awam Morcha-(Secular) of Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rashtriya Lok Morcha (RLM) of Upendra Kushwaha.

Out of 16, the JD(U) has fielded two women candidates in the form of Lovely Anand from Sheohar and Vijaylakshmi Kushwaha from the Siwan seat. Similarly, LJP-(RV) led by Chirag Paswan fielded two women candidates, Shambhavi Kunal Choudhary from Samastipur and Veena Devi from Vaishali.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress had fielded three women candidates — Ms. Meira Kumar from Sasram, Ranjit Ranjan from Supual and Neelam Devi, wife of don-turned politician Anant Singh from Munger. This, time Ms. Kumar refused to contest the poll, Ms. Ranjan is Rajya Sabha member from Chhattisgarh and Ms. Devi, after becoming MLA on the RJD ticket, switched to the JD(U). In 2019, the BJP has fielded only woman candidate, Rama Devi from Sheohar.

BJP claims hypocrisy

Asked about giving no ticket to women candidates in this Lok Sabha election, Bihar BJP spokesperson Kuntal Krishna said, “The BJP is committed to giving adequate representation to Aadhi Aabadi and we have recently sent our women’s wing president to the Rajya Sabha. Recently, a seat in the Upper House in Bihar was given to Anamika Singh Patel. Time and again the BJP has honoured our women leaders who come from a simple background. The BJP doesn’t believe in hypocrisy as the RJD. The RJD gives all the possible posts and positions to the Lalu family members and claims to give representation to women. This is actually a mockery of giving women representation by the RJD.”

Bihar Congress spokesperson Anand Madhab said that in total the Grand Alliance had fielded six candidates.

“Our partner RJD has fielded six women candidates but looking at the present scenario we have opted for the candidate having winning ability. No doubt, women should be given tickets, however the Congress did not receive any application from the women candidates this time. This is not the end and in the Assembly elections in 2025 when we will form the government, appropriate space would be given to women.”

The representation of women in both the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will increase once 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, or the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, reservation of one-third of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies shall come into effect after an excise of delimitation is undertaken based on figures from the first Census that is conducted after the Act is enacted. The Bill will be implemented only after 2029.

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