In a first for Gurgaon since it became a separate Lok Sabha constituency in 2009, all 24 candidates in the fray for the upcoming polls so far are men, with nominations of the five women who filed their candidature last week either withdrawn or rejected over the last three days.
Of the women who had filed nominations, two were wives of Congress and BJP candidates, whose candidatures were rejected after those of their husbands were accepted.
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Officials said if the nomination of the candidate fighting on the ticket of a nationally recognised party is accepted, the candidature of their “covering candidate” is slotted as an Independent, for whom “10 proponents” are required. In the case of Shakuntla, wife of Congress’s Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, and Manita Singh, wife of BJP’s Rao Inderjit Singh, they each had only one proponent, because of which their nominations were rejected. A third woman whose nomination was rejected was the Bahujan Mukti Party’s Rachna who, officials said, had not completed Section II of the nomination form.
A fourth woman candidate, Pooja Tyagi of the Daksh Party, meanwhile withdrew her nomination Wednesday after the nomination of the main candidate of the party was accepted.
The only woman who then remained in the running after the sorting process was 37-year-old Sukhvinder, a housewife from Gurgaon, whose husband is an advocate. She, too, however, withdrew her nomination Friday —the last day for a candidate to do so.
The dearth of women in the fray for Lok Sabha elections is not a new phenomenon for Gurgaon — in the last two polls, there was just one woman whose nomination was accepted.
While Usha Rani Verma, a housewife from Rajeev Nagar who contested as an Independent, was the only woman fighting from Gurgaon in 2014; in 2009 it was the BJP’s Sudha Yadav. While the latter secured 24,420 votes at the time, Verma got a mere 489 votes. Since 2009, the Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat has been held by Rao Inderjit Singh, who was with the Congress in his first term and the BJP in his second.
Political parties in Gurgaon still insist they don’t pick candidates based on gender, and only keep “winnability” and “demographics” in mind.
“For us, it all depends on winnability. If we have a female candidate who can win, we would have given her the ticket. In 2004 also, the BJP had fielded Sudha Yadav, when Gurgaon was part of the Mahendragarh constituency,”said Raman Malik, the BJP Haryana spokesperson.
“Even today, we are working with female candidates in Haryana and trying to groom them. Sunita Duggal, for example, fought the Vidhan Sabha elections but was unable to win at the time. The Chief Minister and other people in the party have stood by her and developed her into a Lok Sabha candidate who is fighting from Sirsa this time,” he said.
Gurgaon in-charge of the Congress, Ashok Bhaskar, said, “No women applied for the ticket for the Lok Sabha elections from Gurgaon this time. Women tend to apply more for Vidhan Sabha elections. We do not discriminate in any sense while allotting a ticket. It depends only on whether the candidate fits in the system… We have given tickets to women for other seats in Haryana this time.”
Jannayak Janata Party spokesperson Deep Kamal Saharan acknowledged that there is a “challenge” in Haryana in terms of representation of women in politics, but added that the party hopes fielding Swati Yadav from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh will “inspire” more women to follow in her footsteps. “Even in Gurgaon, we were considering wrestler Geeta Phogat, but that did not work out,” said Saharan.