As Haryana votes on May 12, there will be just 11 women candidates in the fight for the state’s ten Lok Sabha seats out of total 223 candidates in fray.
Rajya Sabha MP Kumari Selja (Congress candidate from Ambala), Bansi Lal’s granddaughter Shruti Choudhry (Congress candidate from Bhiwani) and former IRS officer Sunita Duggal, fielded by the BJP from Sirsa, are the only candidates who have been fielded by national political parties for Lok Sabha polls from Haryana.
Newly formed Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) of Lok Sabha MP Dushyant Chautala has fielded Swati Yadav from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, while Loktantra Suraksha Party of BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini has chosen Raj Bala Saini, wife of a Delhi businessman, as its candidate for Sonipat seat.
A closer look at the figures of past ten parliamentary polls provided by the Election Commission reveals that maximum 14 women contested the 2009 election, while only three women contested the 1989 election.
In the 2014 general elections, not even a single woman candidate could manage to win in the state known for its skewed gender ratio, while six out ten parliamentary constituencies here have never elected a woman MP.
No woman candidate contesting independently in the state has ever made it to the Lok Sabha. This time, seven of the 11 female candidates are fighting as Independent candidates.
In case of voter turnout, 70 per cent women voted in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in comparison to 73.44 per cent men.
Till date, only five women have been elected to the Lok Sabha from Haryana.
Chandrawati of Bhartiya Lok Dal was first woman from Haryana who had entered to the Lok Sabha when she had won Bhiwani seat in 1977. Shruti Chouhdry had won the 2009 Lok Sabha poll from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh while Selja is a four-time Lok Sabha MP — two times from Sirsa and two times from Ambala. Out of the 151 MPs elected from the state so far (including when it was a part of Punjab), women were elected only eight times.
INLD’s Kailasho Saini was also elected to Parliament two times from Kurukshetra in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Dr Sudha Yadav of BJP had won Mahendragarh seat in 1999.
“Political parties mainly want to restrain women to rallies only,” comments Santosh Dahiya, a professor in Kurukshetra University.
“It’s not only Haryana, but the entire country faces similar situation when the issue of women’s participation for Assemblies and Parliament comes. Currently, only 12 per cent women are in Parliament here in comparison to 20 per cent in Pakistan and 27 per cent in Afghanistan,” she adds.
Dahiya, who had contested the 2014 election as INLD candidate from Beri constituency of Jhajjar district but lost the poll battle, says that as “patriarchal mindset demoralises women from entering into active politics, only reservation can ensure better representation of women in the state Assemblies and Parliament”.
Former chairperson of Haryana women’s commission, Sushila Sharma, says that women can do wonders, if equal opportunities are provided to them. “Girls from Haryana have already proved their capabilities in the sports which has even prompted film star Aamir Khan to make a film on female wrestlers. They have played their role in Army and police as well. This is the time when the women should be encouraged for active participation in the electoral politics.”
(WITH PTI INPUTS)