Congress best in fielding women candidates, BSP worst
Data from past six elections shows an unwillingness by top five national parties - BJP, Congress, CPI, CPM and BSP - to give tickets to women.
It’s still early to say how many women each party will field this time but data from the past six Lok Sabha elections reflects a political unwillingness that is spread across the top five national parties — BJP, Congress, CPI, CPM and BSP.
An analysis of Lok Sabha elections from 1996 to 2014 shows none of them has given more than 10% of their tickets (all elections taken together) to women. In individual elections, some have exceeded the 10% mark. But no one is close to the 33% reservation in the Lok Sabha that women have been demanding for a long time.
Congress fielded the maximum number of women, both in terms of the absolute number and as a percentage of the total number of candidates the party gave tickets to. Mayawati-led BSP fielded the least number of women. Overall, the five national parties together fielded 9,174 candidates in six elections, of whom only 726 (8%) were women.
As for state parties, they fielded 252 women candidates in the six Lok Sabha elections combined. The number of women who got tickets from unrecognised parties and the number of independents was 649 and 1,109, respectively.
Ritu Singh, a former BSP member now with BJP, says, “There is a problem across parties, and as somebody who speaks on behalf of BJP as its spokesperson, I think women must get 50% of the tickets. In BSP, Behenji (Mayawati) herself did not do this. I have had several talks with her, but women never got the kind of importance in that party. Maybe, she was scared.”
On an average, Congress gave 1 in 10 tickets to women, while BSP had only 5% of its candidates as women. BJP and CPI each gave 8% of their tickets to women and CPM gave 9%. Of the 2,780 candidates that contested on Congress tickets in these elections, 286 were women. BSP gave tickets to 96 women among its 1,847 candidates, and BJP fielded 196 women in its pool of 2,490 candidates.
BSP spokesperson Ashok Siddharth says, “Where is the question of more tickets to women or less when our national leader herself is a woman? We are giving tickets to women everywhere, in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and everywhere. You are comparing BSP with BJP and Congress. We are not just a political party but a movement.”
Election-wise analysis shows Congress has, in two elections, handed 11% of its tickets to women and it touched 13% in 2014. BJP and Mayawati-led BSP have never crossed 10%, while CPM crossed 10% at least twice in six elections.
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, while conceding that women need better representation across the parties, says, “Women do not get a free hand, and the leadership often does not show confidence. The Congress was committed to 33% reservations for women and we know that the battle won’t end there.”