NEW DELHI: At 78, the number of women MPs in the Lok Sabha is at an all-time high this time, but their representation in the government has gone down. Compared to Narendra Modi’s first tenure, which saw 8 women ministers — 6 with cabinet rank and two others as Ministers of State — there are just 6 women in the new government that took oath on Thursday.
This despite Modi praising the importance of women representation in governance at the NDA meet on Saturday. Modi said, “This is for the first time in independent India that such a large number of women MPs are sitting in Parliament.” Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti and Maneka Gandhi — who were cabinet ministers in the last government — have been dropped this time. The non-inclusion of Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs during Modi’s first stint, and Gandhi, who was the Women and Child Development Minister, came as a surprise for many.
Nirmala Sitharaman, Harsmirat Kaur and Smriti Irani were sworn in as cabinet ministers in the new government. Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal, who had been inducted as minister of state for health in the previous government, has been dropped. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, an MP from Uttar Pradesh who has often hit the headlines for controversial statements, was a minister of state for food processing ministry and has been retained in the council of ministers.
Renuka Singh Saruta and Debasree Chaudhuri are the new entrants in the council of ministers. A total of 724 women contested elections across the country, with the Congress fielding the maximum of 54, closely followed by the BJP at 53. With over 14 per cent female members, the 17th Lok Sabha will have the highest number of women MPs.