By Raksha Kumar
In June 2018, during the Karnataka Election campaign, Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi spoke at length about fielding more women as candidates. Admitting he was raised by strong women, Gandhi said he understands that women are better administrators.
However, his party did not seem to take note of his desire back then (Congress wielded 15 women in the 222 seats, only three won). And they seem to have ignored it even now, going by the party’s list of candidates for Madhya Pradesh, the largest central Indian state, which will go to polls on December 11. Of the 155 candidates whose names have been announced, only 21 are women. Names of candidates for 75 more seats are yet to be announced.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which currently rules the state, is even worse. Among the 177 names announced, only 13 are women. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chaohan had sent 5 lakh letters to his “sisters” across the state on Raksha Bandhan, seeking another term from them to “ameliorate their condition”. He could have taken the first step in this direction by fielding more women in these elections.
A common argument put forward by politicians for the gender imbalance among election candidates is that the electorate is not ready for female politicians. It is rather presumptuous to assert that without giving much of the electorate any option.