Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa inducted 17 ministers in his cabinet on August 20 with only one woman minister—BJP MLA Shashikala Annasaheb Jolle. This is the first time BJP’s Yediyurappa expanded his cabinet after swearing-in as the Chief Minister on July 26 and proving his majority in the assembly on July 29. Governor Vajubhai R Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 17 ministers in a ceremony that lasted about 47 minutes at Raj Bhavan.

The ministry’s lone woman lawmaker, Jolle, is a social worker and a two-time Member of Legislative Assembly from Nippani constituency in the Belgaum district of North Karnataka region. This is the first time she been appointed in the ministerial role but this is only one of the many firsts for her. She also became the first woman MLA from Nippani in 2013—the seat she retained in 2018 as well. She focuses her work towards the betterment of the differently-abled people in society. She founded educational institutions along with several schools and learning centres for the mentally-challenged children. Both she and her husband are politicians as Annasaheb Jolle is the BJP MP from Chikkodi-Sadalga.

Of the 222 legislative constituencies of Karnataka, which went into elections last year, only seven women MLAs were elected which includes Jolle. Three female candidates of BJP won out of the six that they had fielded while four winning candidates are from Indian National Congress out of the 15 that they had given tickets to. Yet only one woman was inducted in the cabinet of BJP-led government in Karnataka. In the state assembly election, women constituted only 3.1percent winning candidates.

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In the times when the number of women voters is rising across the states and number of women contesting/winning candidates is also rising, when it comes to women joining the cabinet they always lag behind. There is a reason why the number of independent women candidates is always higher than women candidates fielded by parties—it is because parties fail to show enough faith in women. A mere three percent of women MLAs is a pathetic display of misogyny running in the state’s political demography.

The ministry’s lone woman lawmaker, Jolle, is a social worker and a two-time Member of Legislative Assembly from Nippani constituency in the Belgaum district of North Karnataka region. This is the first time she been appointed in the ministerial role but this is only many of the firsts for her.

However, Karnataka is no worse than any other state in the country. In Uttar Pradesh, CM Yogi Adityanath also expanded his cabinet today with 23 ministers. Of these 23 ministers, six have joined the cabinet, six have become ministers with independent charge and 11 are ministers of state. Of all the six cabinet ministers, Kamla Rani is the lone women MLA.

Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra also have only one woman in the state cabinets. Punjab has two women cabinet ministers, Andhra Pradesh has three women ministers in the cabinet and Tamil Nadu leads with four women cabinet ministers. Rajasthan is one of the poorest performers with an all-men cabinet. For all the talk on the reservation of women in politics and women’s empowerment, if the elected government are not going to show faith in women representatives, is the dream of seeing a gender-responsive government ever going to become a reality?

Image credit: Shashikala’s Instagram

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