Push for participation of women by political parties, an election gimmick?

Published : Mar 19, 2019 11:18 am | By: Priya Ghosh

Push for participation of women by political parties, an election gimmick?

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Regional parties like BJD and TMC are making promises to give tickets to maximum women candidates as the Lok Sabha 2019 polls is round the corner. The women's reservation bill seems to be gaining prominence and it is to be seen if its just an election strategy or the efforts being made by the parties are genuine.


International Women’s Day was celebrated worldwide a few days back and it was reiterated how liberated women are in today’s day and age. In India with the general elections round the corner regional parties have started announcing reservation for women in the 2019 LS polls. The parties assert that it is beyond the purpose of gaining momentum during elections and not a political gimmick at all. It is to empower women in the political arena and should happen on a daily basis.

This development has happened after the women’s reservation bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha but stalled in the Lok Sabha.Since then only now when elections are round the corner that regional parties like Odisha’s BJD and TMC of Bengal have said that they will give poll tickets to women. But the question arises that that why now right before the elections .

 The participation of women in terms of contesting in the electoral process has been quite grim in India over the years. Various political parties and women’s organization have constantly come forward and raised the demand of introducing and passing of women’s reservation bill in the parliament. The representation of women in the decision making process. Is essential and should eb encouraged immensely.

Political parties like the Congress initially led the campaign for the requirement of women to participate in the political process of the nation .  Now with women voting in large numbers,the political parties are expected to give more tickets to women candidates but it has never happened and in fact the number of tickets for women have gone down Karnataka was one of the first states in India to  reserve seats in panchayats and constitutes of women who are well experienced in grassroot poltics. But out of 224 assembly seats in the state the BJP gave a mere six seats to women candidates while Congress gave 16. This particular trend has been observed in other states; like Tripura, Gujarat, Punjab or Uttar Pradesh where fewer tickets are given to women candidates. The women’s reservation bill was a key aspect which has not been considered by the ruling party and has further eroded the possibility of participation of women in the political and electoral procedure.

However with the Lok Sabha elections almost nearing, there has been a sudden willingness of including women with regional parties announcing reservations and the national parties welcoming the move. Earlier Rahul Gandhi had said that 50 % of women will be accommodated in the Congress party and that after his party comes to power he will ensure tht the women’s reservation bill is passed and implemented successfully. These claims are coming at a time when it is hard to gage whether it is just an election strategy or genuine concern for women of our nation.TMC supremo and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has said, “It’s a challenge to all political parties in India. We had 35% representation last time, but this time almost 41% are women candidates."

 

The patriarchal society still plays a dominant role in India due to which the participation of women in political parties is relatively low. However with the Lok Sabha elections coming into play the political parties are encouraging the participation of women and if its only to gain brownie points then it’s very sad because this process should not be only restricted to election time and it should be done on a day to day basis. The BJP has said that the participation of women in politics is a part of their manifesto and they have always been supporting it, The party also said that women empowerment is a significant issue for the party members which goes beyond politics.

However the 2014 polls witnessed a marginal improvement in the participation of women than  In 2014, 61 women secured Lok Sabha seats compared to 2009. In Bengal the Mamata Banerjee led government has always encouraged the participation of women and in 2014, the party presented the maximum number of women candidates as compared to other parties. Even for the upcoming elections, the party has pledged to rope in women to participate in the electoral process.

The women’s reservation bill seems to be back on the agenda for the forthcoming general elections, Earlier it was the Congress was hell bent on getting it revived but now the regional parties are also showing great determination in terms of revival of the bill. The important aspect should be that the concern regarding the bill should not die down with the elections being over and political parties should work towards it post elections. The idea of women’s reservation came up even before independence and since then organizations and parties have been fighting to secure a place for women in the political field thereby providing them with the status where they can work at par with men. It can be hoped that the efforts made by parties to support the issue of participation of women is not restricted to polls and that they continue pushing for it in the future as well.
 

 


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