When Haryana votes on Monday, political parties in the state will be hoping that their special focus on wooing women voters will pay dividends when the results come in on October 24.
Political parties in the state spoke about women education, jobs, self-defence in their election manifestos and even women voters spoke about issues facing them including unemployment, financial crisis and domestic violence. Out of 1.83 crore voters of Haryana, approximately 85.12 lakh are women.
Her face hidden behind a veil, Sumitra Rani from Umarvas village of Badhra constituency, said,” I spent Rs 8 lakh on education of my son. He did B.Tech from Bhiwani, but he is unemployed. Farming income is less, so this causes a direct impact on our lives…”
As she served softdrinks and savouries to a group of women gathered at her place, another woman voter, Sunita, said: “My son, Arvind, too completed his BTech and now he doesn’t want to do farming. He is unemployed. There is a fight daily in our house. Will any government understand these small issues which affect us emotionally.”
Sunita, whose family has only an acre land, adds,”Congress and INLD have been appealing for our votes. We are worried about unemployment of our children.”
In this election, the JJP had organised ‘Hari Chunari Ki Chaupal’ programme specially for women so as to enroll the women voters with them. These chaupals were held in 58 constituencies starting from the month of July and culminated after poll dates were announced.
“We used to be given a ‘hari chunari’ as it is the party’s colour, sweets and fruits to eat at the chaupals. There we spoke about water scarcity, domestic violence, unemployment and other issues,” Manjeet, a villager from Shyamkala village in Badhra, said.
In Tosham, women buying groceries in the main market close to Congress candidate Kiran Chaudhary’s office did speak about self-defense as they were worried about their daughters going to other cities for studies. “ BJP manifesto has stated that they will provide self-defence training to girls..
They have not been able to create awareness to shun ghoongat or to stop giving preference to male child..Will just self-defence help?”
Meanwhile, the INLD has promised Rs 5 lakh shagun at the marriage of girls from economically backward sections. While BJP has given no reservation in jobs to women, it has announced free education to two daughters of a family till graduation if the family income is less than Rs 1.80 lakhs per annum. They have also announced pink bus service in cities for girls. JJP on the other hand has promised free education till PhD.
In Chautala village in Sirsa, women preferred to stay away from politics as they refused to be identified saying,”Vote ki baat, aadmiyon se karo… hamein nahi pata (Ask men about the elections, we don’t know). Navneet Kaur, a Sirsa resident, said,”This time many promises have been announced for women, but over the years I have observed that political parties just promise and never deliver.”