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Dismal presence of women in Lok Sabha

March 13, 2009 17:33 IST
Despite tall promises made by political parties, presence of women in the Lok Sabha has remained a dismal 3.5 per cent to 9.02 per cent of its total strength since it came into being.

The number of women in Lok Sabha has remained between 19 and 49 ever since the first general elections, with the sixth Lok Sabha having the lowest of 19 women and the 13th Lok Sabha having the highest at 49 members.

While most of the parties in their manifestoes have so far promised to ensure more women participation in the political arena, the records tell a different story all together raising concerns among various women's groups.

As far as women's participation in elections was concerned, north-eastern states were far ahead with a massive 75 per cent of women in Sikkim participating in the polls and the state of Jammu and Kashmir scored the lowest with only 29.02 per cent participation of the fairer sex.

Assam had 71,93,283 women electors, Bihar 2,35,06,264, Tamil Nadu 2,39,82,970, Madhya Pradesh 1,83,61,940 and Delhi 38,09,550.

The performance of women candidates in the elections, which is the criteria by which political parties decide on women candidates, also shows variations in different states.

While Uttar Pradesh had the maximum number of women contestants at 61, only 7 of them managed to get elected. Out of the 34 women contestants in West Bengal, only 4 were elected, in Andhra Pradesh 3 out of 21, Haryana just 1out of 8 and in Madhya Pradesh 3 out of 30 candidates were elected.

In Delhi, the commensurate figure was 1 elected out of 15 candidates. Uttar Pradesh also led the states in the maximum number of women candidates forfeiting their deposits at 37, while in Madhya Pradesh 23 women lost their deposits, in Maharashtra 21 and in West Bengal 24.

Analysing the records, party-wise shows that the Congress fielded the maximum number of 45 women candidates in the 2004 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party was second at 30, while the Bahujan Samaj Party had 20 women candidates in the fray.

12 out of the 45 women Congress candidates won, while only 10 of the BJP could make it at the hustings. While the Congress had fielded 6 women candidates more during the 1999 elections, the BJP tally had actually gone up by 5 contestants.

The total number of women candidates also went up from 284 in 1999 to 355 in 2004. The largest number of women contestants was in 1996 at 599. However, interestingly while 49 candidates won in 1999, only 45 won in 2004 despite the number of candidates being higher during that year.

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