Less women leaders in Lok Sabha, Assembly this time from Odisha

Only four women have been elected to the Lok Sabha as compared to seven in 2019 polls. Similarly, 11 women have been elected to the state Assembly as against 13 last time.
Nearly, 66 women candidates were in the fray for both Lok Sabha and Assembly election from the BJD, BJP and Congress.
Nearly, 66 women candidates were in the fray for both Lok Sabha and Assembly election from the BJD, BJP and Congress. Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: The number of women elected to the Lok Sabha from the state and the Odisha Legislative Assembly has dropped this time.

Only four women have been elected to the Lok Sabha as compared to seven in 2019 polls. Similarly, 11 women have been elected to the state Assembly as against 13 last time.

Nearly, 66 women candidates were in the fray for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections from the BJD, BJP and Congress. Among the three political parties, a majority of the women candidates fielded by the BJD suffered defeat.

In the 21 Lok Sabha seats of Odisha, 29 women candidates were in the fray this time. While no candidate from the BJD could win, four from BJP emerged victorious in the LS polls. The only saving grace for BJD could have been Sarmistha Sethi but she too lost from Jajpur by just 1,587 votes in the last round of counting.

Since the 2019 general elections, the BJD had been fielding 33 per cent women in its 21 Parliamentary seats which is the highest by any political party.

The BJP winners include Aparajita Sarangi who retained the prestigious Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat by a winning margin of 35,152 votes. The others are Sangeeta Kumar Singh Deo (Balangir) and Malvika Devi (Kalahandi), both belonging to royal families of Patnagarh and Kalahandi respectively. In Aska constituency, Anita Subhadarshini won by defeating her BJD rival and a political greenhorn Ranjita Sahu.

Similarly, the BJD had fielded women candidates in 34 out of the total 147 Assembly seats. However, only five women could win. Among the winners are Barsha Singh Bariha and Subhasini Jena who won from Padampur and Basta segments respectively with comfortable margins.

Former speaker and six-time MLA Pramila Mallik retained Binjharpur Assembly seat after a close contest with BJP’s Babita Mallick whom she defeated by a thin margin of 2,856 votes. Interestingly, SHG leader and a political greenhorn Sujata Sahoo won the Jajpur seat and another new face Manorama Mohanty defeated former union minister Bhakta Charan Das of Congress from Narla.

In 2019 elections, 12 women had represented the BJD in the state Assembly. From the BJP camp, five women candidates emerged victorious in the Assembly polls this time. The saffron party had fielded nine women candidates. The youngest among the winners is 26-year-old Upasna Mohapatra who won the Brahmagiri seat. Another young woman 29-year-old Sanjali Murmu won the Bangiriposi seat by defeating BJD’s Ranjita Marndi.

Former BJD MLA from Hindol Simarani Nayak, who had joined the BJP, retained the seat for the saffron party. The two other winners are Pravati Panda (Nimapara) and former MLA Surama Padhy (Ranpur). In the last elections, BJP had given tickets to nine women but only Kusum Tete could win from Sundargarh.

Sofia Firdous, daughter of Congress strongman Mohammed Moquim, won from Barabati-Cuttack seat for the grand old party.

Political commentator Simta Nayak said at a time when gender representation at all levels including politics is mandated, election of more number of women to the Odisha’s Legislative Assembly and the Lok Sabha would have been better. “Despite the low representation of women, the government should not stop focusing on gender issues. Because, the attitude of the government towards gender issues is important,” she added.

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