This election has been a change-maker in a lot of ways starting with the mind-blowing victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time. Another remarkable shift is in the number of women candidates who have now become MPs, the total of 78 women MPs in the parliament is the highest ever. Of these 78 women MPs, a total of seven women MPs belong to Odisha making it the first state ever to have 33% or the largest share of women MPs out of its total of 21 seats.

Odisha’s Chief Minister and president of Biju Janta Dal, Naveen Patnaik was the first minister ever to announce 33% reservation in tickets for women, to be given by his party for the Lok Sabha election in March, this year. Lauded for his effort to bring in women’s support in the parliament, Patnaik walked the talk and gave tickets to seven women candidates out of 21. His list of women candidates included a 25-year-old tribal girl, a 68-year-old Self-help Group leader, a women’s rights activist-turned-politician among others.

Five of their seven candidates stand victorious in the poll fray along with two of BJP’s women candidates bringing the total to seven women candidates. While a huge number of people praised Patnaik for his progressive thinking in fielding more women candidates this year, there was also a group that thought otherwise, that women candidate does not necessarily mean more women MPs. However, that theory lies thrashed today as women candidates didn’t just contest; they won in large numbers too. According to data, there was a 10.9% chance of women winning the election as compared to the 6.3% chance men had.

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Odisha’s women MPs include BJD’s tribal girl and the youngest woman MP among all – Chandrani Murmu who won from Keonjhar, SHG leader Pramila Bisoyi from Aska, former civil servant Sarmistha Sethi from Jajpur, Dr Rajshree Mallick from Jagatsinghpur and Manjulata Mandal from Bhadrak. All these candidates are novices in politics but they did not disappoint. BJP also fielded three women candidates in the state out of which two won—Aparajita Sarangi from Bhubaneshwar and Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo from Bolangir.

While Sarangi is an IAS-turned-politician whose people connect and good work as an administrator in the state resonated with Bhubaneswar, Deo is a three-time MP from Bolangir in the 12th,  13th and 14th LS and now she has made a comeback to the seat.

Murmu is so young that she completed her engineering degree in 2017 but is dynamic in her own style. Her approach to local issues and the zest to retain her uniqueness makes her a prominent MP to look forward to. On the other hand, Bisoyi has been a leader of her SHG for several years now and has worked in the areas of women empowerment and environmental protection. Her SHG includes over a lakh women. Patnaik had said about her that it would be personally “heartening” for him to see Pramila enter the parliament.

Odisha’s Chief Minister and president of Biju Janta Dal, Naveen Patnaik was the first minister ever to announce 33% reservation in tickets for women, to be given by his party for the Lok Sabha election in March, this year.

A total of 25 women contested in the Lok Sabha election from Odisha out of total 174 candidates. Seven women won which makes it 28% winning percentage of women MPs against 9.39% for male MPs in Odisha.

This unprecedented victory of women in Odisha has only been made possible because of the initiative taken by a forward-thinking Patnaik who has always committed himself for the betterment of women’s identity in the social space. His advocacy and concrete steps make him stand many steps ahead of his peers so early in times when even today we see a lot of lip-service around women’s reservation in politics by big parties but no actual work. Even in 2019 when politicians don’t want to give up their privilege behind closed doors as they go on to pretend-support women for publicity and because it is in vogue right now.

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