NEW DELHI: Thirty-three per cent representation in the Lower House of the Parliament is still a far cry but Indian women seem to have done their best this time as the election results were declared on Thursday.
A total of 76 women candidates are set to make it to the 17th Lok Sabha — the highest since the first general elections — marking a little over 14 per cent of the total 542 seats that had gone to the polls. In the last Lok Sabha, there were 66 women representatives. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are sending the highest number of women — 11 each — to the Lok Sabha. There will also be a comparatively high number of women MPs from Odhisa and around six of them are from Biju Janta Dal. Among the most high profile, women MPs who will be seen in the lower house are Sonia Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi, Hema Malini and Smriti Irani.
Another star candidate Jaya Prada, who was a BJP candidate from UP’s Rampur, however, lost to Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan. Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar, too, lost from Mumbai north.
A total of 34 women MPs in Parliament will be from the ruling BJP, which had fielded just 47 women candidates. In comparison, TMC had fielded 41 per cent of women candidates while BJD had fielded 33 per cent.
Marginally better performance by women candidates pleased many but some women rights activists sounded rather cautious.
“Except Bengal and Odisha, there were fewer women candidates fielded than men. So the odds for winning then were naturally higher for men than women,” said a Delhi-based activist. “Secondly, the women fielded by winning parties tend to have a strong elite profile. So, it does not necessarily mean that representation of common women is getting any better in Parliament.”
Meanwhile, DMK of Tamil Nadu, which had fielded two women candidates, including Sumathy Thangapandian from Chennai South and Kanimozhi Karunanidhi from Thoothukudi, saw them both winning their respective seats. In Andhra, four women candidates of YSR Congress, Goddeti Madhavi from Aruku , K V Satyavathi from Anakapalli, Chinta Anuradha from Amalapuram and Vanga Geetha from Kakinada also registered convincing victories.