Hours before the Lok Sabha poll schedule was announced, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday indicated that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would allocate 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets to women.
Addressing a women’s rally in Kendrapara district, he said: “From this historic soil in Kendrapara, I announce that from Odisha, 33 per cent women will go to Parliament… Odisha will show India the way in empowering women.”
BJD leaders later confirmed that the party would reserve 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets for women, becoming the first party to implement the longstanding proposal.
The BJD, which won 20 of 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in 2014, currently has three women MPs — Shakuntala Laguri (Keonjhar), Rita Tarai (Jajpur) and Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh (Kandhamal).
“Kendrapara’s soil is Biju Babu’s (Biju Patnaik) soil. In 1990, Biju Babu showed the way to the nation. He implemented 33 per cent reservation for women in the three-tier Panchayati Raj institutions,” Patnaik said at the rally. “In 2012, your (BJD) government enhanced it to 50 per cent,” he said.
Patnaik said he had forwarded this proposal to all the political parties and chief ministers.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “To distract from violence against women in Odisha, Naveen Babu is indulging in such rhetoric and hypocrisy.” He asked why the BJD had not reserved tickets for the Assembly polls too, which will be held with the Lok Sabha polls.