Politics is the hot topic of discussion among people across the country as India moves towards the big General Elections in 2019. The way the recent state assembly elections fared in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh has brought in a kind of surprise element in politics. Talking politics, eminent journalist Sheela Reddy and ANI editor Smita Prakash spoke to SheThePeople.TV founder, Shaili Chopra, at the Women Writer’s Fest in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Reddy, who has contributed to leading newspapers and journals in a career spanning 35 years, opined about the recent shift and said, “As high as the expectations were from BJP in 2014, the disappointments are equally the same and people were extremely frustrated that their high hopes with which they had brought this government in was not working out.”

And while the winning and losing streaks of parties will always generate buzz, what has also made fair amount of news is women’s representation in politics. The promises made have not even been touched again in the last four years and silence continues to prevail. But what the current government did do is put three women in key ministerial positions in the cabinet.

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Talking about how women stand in politics today and how Prakash has seen them as she chronicled their representation in politics, she spoke about the women politicians like Sonia Gandhi and Rabri Devi. “In the current elections, the percentage of women is so low because women hardly get tickets and even if they get tickets, they hardly win elections. The elections were not confidence-generating about where we are as far as the number of women contesting elections and winning them is concerned,” said Prakash.

Even in North Eastern states, one would think that women have a better treatment, but in politics they suffer too as the numbers are so low, she added.

However, she says that women play a major role in political activism. Women come out to protest against dictatorial attitudes in political movements. “They may not play an important role in decision-making, but they do influence politics. They bring up local issues and are prominently present in militant movements too.

“In the current elections, the percentage of women is so low because women hardly get tickets and even if they get tickets they hardly win elections.”

On the reservation in politics for women, something that several organisations are battling to make a reality, Reddy said that she has ambivalent thoughts on women’s quota. “One part of me resists reservations as something very patronising and, although, it is double the work for women to get equal rights, it has in some ways served us. It is part of who we are and as we grow older, we are thankful for the struggle because it makes us stronger as individuals.”

“Having said that, I am aware that I am a privileged member of the society and I did not face the kind of terrible fights that women had to struggle. So in such situations one feels that one really needs reservation,” said Reddy.

On the contrary, Prakash extended full support towards reservation. “I feel that we need reservations in legislative bodies, like we see the success happening in lower bodies, we need the same in parliament. With more women in parliament, we will see better legislation. We will see more women coming out of the comfort zone.”

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