The hills are patriarchal: Too few women candidates in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand state polls
There are only 19 women candidates in the fray in Himachal Pradesh for 68 Assembly seats and just five women legislators were there in a House of 70 in the recently concluded Uttarakhand state polls.
HAMIRPUR (HIMACHAL PRADESH): It's said, patriarchy runs deep in hills. That Himalayan hills are dotted with temples of goddesses comes in sharp contrast to minuscule women participation in Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections on the lines of the just concluded Uttarakhand state polls.
There are 349 candidates in the fray but only 19 women in Himachal Pradesh for 68 Assembly seats. The BJP has fielded six and the Congress just three.
Indeed, the star campaigner of the BJP and Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur notes with pride that his party has fielded double women candidates than the Congress. "The BJP, in fact, denied party nominations to two sitting MLAs to give tickets in place to women nominees," Thakur told The New Indian Express.
That hills are said to be patriarchal also gains from the fact that there are just five women legislators in a House of 70 in Uttarakhand Assembly. The Congress had fielded eight women candidates against five of the BJP in Uttarakhand. Incidentally, both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have traditionally been states with two party system as the BJP and Congress are seen alternately forming governments.
BJP's chief ministerial nominee and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal admits that the women participation in the electoral politics is too low for national political parties to take pride in. "As a chief minister, I had introduced 50 per cent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies. Women strongly participated in the poll process and 58 per cent of them had been elected in the first local bodies' polls. But the women participation is definitely very low in the Assembly elections," Dhumal told The New Indian Express.
Dhumal stated that the winnability is a factor in choosing candidates in elections. "I hope that since a good number of women leaders are coming up at the Panchayati and local bodies levels, there will be a strong number of them in future for Assembly polls also," Dhumal optimistically quipped.
The count of women candidates would have gone higher by one if the nomination papers of Congress' Vidya Stokes had not been rejected on technical grounds.
Women constitute roughly 49 per cent of the population in both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The irony of the hilly state becomes more acute as women outnumber men electorates in 16 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh. The political leaders note that the women in the state are engaged in a large number in horticulture, animal husbandry and agriculture.
Out of 49,91,921 electorates in Himachal Pradesh, men account for 2498171 against 2407490 voters.
While Uttar Pradesh is seen no less a patriarchal state, it elected 38 women legislators in a House of 403 in the Assembly polls held early this year.
Six BJP women nominees are Indu Bala (Palampur), Kamlesh Kumari (Bhoranj) Reeta Devi (Indora), Shashi Bala (Rohru), Vijay Jyoti (Kasumpti) and Sarveen (Shahpur). The Congress has fielded three women candidates -- Champa Thakur (Mandi), Asha Kumari (Dalhousie) and Viplove Thakur (Dehra).