The 117-member Punjab Assembly will be represented by just six women members this time against 14 in the outgoing assembly, the highest-ever in the state’s electoral history. Among the 351 candidates fielded by the parties, 27 were women. Congress had fielded 11 women followed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 9, while the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP fielded five and two respectively. Out of them, only three from AAP and Congress have emerged victorious.
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Out of the six, one is AAP’s Rupinder Kaur Ruby (27), who won from Bathinda Rural by defeating SAD’s Amit Rattan Kotfatta by a margin of 10,778 votes. Daughter of a retired government employee, Ruby had joined AAP in 2013.
Talking to The Indian Express, Ruby said that her victory shows that it is not necessary to have money power to win elections. “Parties in the past have used money power. We had no money, but people supported us. We worked tirelessly for past six months and we respect the verdict of the voters,” she said.
Another AAP candidate who tasted victory is Prof Baljinder Kaur (31) who won from Talwani Sabo by defeating Khushbaz Singh Jattana of the Congress by a margin of 19,293 votes. Before joining politics, Baljinder was a lecturer at Mata Gujri College in Fatehgarh Sahib. She had contested the by-elections from the constituency in 2014, but lost to SAD candidate Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu. Satkar Kaur (37) of Congress emerged victorious from Ferozepur (Rural) constituency by defeating the sitting MLA Joginder Singh Jindu of SAD by a margin of 21,380 votes. She had also contested the 2012 elections, but had failed to win.
Another Congress candidate Razia Sultana (50), wife of Director General of Police Mohammad Mustafa defeated SAD’s Mohammad Owais by a margin of 12,702 votes. Sultana’s younger brother Arshad Dali was pitted against her on an AAP ticket.
Among other winners is Sarvjit Kaur Manuke (43), AAP’s candidate from Jagraon who won by a margin of 25,576 votes from Malkit Singh Dakha of Congress. A teacher by profession, she left her job to join politics. Aruna Chaudhary (59), the sitting MLA from Dina Nagar constituency retained her seat. The Congress candidate defeated BJP’s Bishan Dass Dhupar by a margin of 31,917 votes. She has the highest victory margin among women candidates.
The number of women in the Punjab Assembly has always remained low. For the first time in 2012, the figure touched double digits when out of 93 women 14 emerged victorious. In 2007, out of 56 women who contested, seven won. In 2002, eight women won, while in 1997 there were seven and in 1992 the number stood at six and in 1985 the count was four. The most abysmal performance was in 1969 when no woman candidate got elected.