She is the first candidate of her young party vying for victory in the Lok Sabha polls in Ghaziabad, but AAP member Shazia Ilmi is also only the third woman ever to have entered a parliamentary election contest for this seat.
In 1962, Congress leader Kamla Choudhary had won in the general elections here to become the first woman MP from Ghaziabad.
After Choudhary, it was another Congress leader, Reeta Singh, who contested the Lok Sabha elections for this seat in 1996. But after her loss in that exercise, no woman candidate had entered the Lok Sabha poll fray from Ghaziabad before AAP handed the ticket to Ilmi.
Women make up around 40 per cent of the electorate in Ghaziabad (8,78,367 out of 20,28,650 voters), which goes to polls on April 10. There is no woman representative in the five Assembly segments within Ghaziabad district.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, apart from the sole woman candidate in Ilmi, the field contains BJP’s VK Singh, Raj Babbar of Congress, Mukul Uphadya of BSP and SP’s Sudan Rawat.
BJP President Rajnath Singh is the sitting MP after he won in the 2009 elections. He is contesting from Lucknow this time.
“Ghaziabad is home to mostly rural populations; that is why women don’t come forward to claim candidature for Lok Sabha elections.
“Besides, a woman leader who wants to contest elections is often prevented by her male leaders in her own party,” said a senior leader of a national party who has been involved in UP politics for over 30 years.
Before Rajnath, Congress leader Surrender Goyal had held the Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat. Prior to that, BJP leader Ramesh Chand Tomar was undefeated in the constituency from 1991 till 2004.