For the Lok Sabha elections of which the results were out on May 23, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had fielded 41 per cent women candidates across 42 seats in West Bengal. Interestingly, out of TMC’s 22 elected Lok Sabha MPs, 41 per cent are women.
In 2014, the party had 32.35 per cent women MPs with 11 women among 34 TMC MPs. This time, the party has sent nine women MPs to Lok Sabha after fielding 17 women candidates.
The seats from where women were elected are Basirhat (Nusrat Jahan), Jadavpur (Mimi Chakraborty), Kolkata Dakshin (Mala Roy), Uluberia (Sajda Ahmed), Krishnanagar (Mohua Moitra), Joynagar (Pratima Mondal), Barasat (Kakali Ghosh Dastidar), Arambagh (Aparupa Poddar) and Birbhum (Shatabdi Roy). Eight other women TMC candidates, however, lost the election.
Meanwhile, the BJP has only two women MPs out of its 18 MPs from Bengal. Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly and Debasree Chaudhuri from Raiganj complete the list of women MPs from Bengal as both Congress MPs from the state are men. In 2014, the total women MPs from Bengal were 12, compared to 11 this time. The number of women in the 17th Lok Sabha has seen a marginal improvement with 78 women being elected from across the country.
TMC candidate Mala Roy, who won the election from Kolkata Dakshin seat, said there should be more women representatives in the Lok Sabha. “It is indeed a great privilege to be associated with a party that takes women seriously. While everyone is talking about 33 per cent reservation for women, our party fielded 41% women candidates. More women must be elected to the Lok Sabha and other parties must follow this practice of nominating more women candidates,” Roy told The Indian Express.
Responding to queries on why there were only two women representatives of the party from West Bengal, state BJP general secretary Raju Banerjee said the party focused on candidates who will raise people’s issues “than fielding film stars”.
“Two of our women MPs are tough leaders and who have worked at the grassroots level. They will raise real issues in the Lok Sabha and will remain present during the sessions. We are not like the TMC that fields actors who may not take active part in the Lok Sabha and remain absent during the sessions,” Banerjee told The Indian Express.
“We always give special focus to women empowerment. We fielded 41 per cent women candidates and of our total elected candidates, 41 per cent are women. This also shows our party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to bring in more women into active politics,” said a senior TMC leader on the condition of anonymity.