As Gujarat goes to poll on April 23, eligible voters from all its 26 constituencies will come out to queue outside the polling booths. In this Lok Sabha election, we analyse the gender aspect of electoral politics, women candidates fielded by various national and regional parties, women candidates taking on the electoral fight independently and how the numbers around them build up. In Saurashtra, this time 371 candidates are in the fray of which a total of 30 candidates are women coming up to 8.08% of the overall number, according to the lists of affidavits filed by candidates with the Election Commission of India.

CONSTITUENCIES AND WOMEN CANDIDATES

There are 197 candidates who are contesting independently in Gujarat of which 15 are women making it 7.61%. Interestingly, the female independent candidates form 50% of the total number women candidates contesting in the elections. In the state where a staggering 11 constituencies still do not have a single woman candidate, the highest number of women candidates fielded from Ahmedabad East constituency are four in number including Congress’ Gita Patel and independent women candidates—Jayswal Nareshkumar Babulal (Raju Mataji), Minaxi Solanki and Sheikh Salmabanu. Banaskantha, Jamnagar, Surat and Navsari are the constituencies which have fielded three women candidates each.

There are two women candidates each in the fray from Kachchh, Mahesana, Bhavnagar and Vadodara. Subsequently six constituencies consisting of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad West, Porbandar, Kheda, Chhota Udaipur, and Patan have one woman candidate each contesting the Lok Sabha election.

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HOW POLITICAL PARTIES FARED?

In terms of how political parties have placed women candidates in Saurashtra constituencies, the party, which won all the constituencies of the state in the previous Lok Sabha elections i.e. the BJP has done far better than the rest of the national and regional parties as it has fielded six women candidates in total. These are Sharda Patel, Poonam Maadam, Dr. Bharati Shiyal, Ranjan Bhatt, Rathva Geeta and Darshana Jardosh. Congress and BSP have fielded one candidate each Gita Patel and Vineeta Singh.

Seven regional parties have fielded seven women candidates respectively. These include Sondarva Baluben Maheshbhai of Rashtriya Power Party, Deepika Sutaria from Manavadhikar National Party, Ayasha Banu from Ambedkar National Congress, Rinku Gohil from Yuva Jan Jagriti Party, Rita Maa from Pyramid Party of India, Amisha Jogiya from Sanyukta Vikas Party and Hiramani from Rashtriya Samaj Paksha.

ABOUT WOMEN CANDIDATES

While Advocate Hasumati Sarvakar, who practices in Patan Session Court, is contesting independently from Patan to take up Dalit issues in Lok Sabha, Rathva Geeta contesting from Chhota Udaipur, is the first fresh face fielded by the BJP for the seat since 1991. However, she has been a member of the District Panchayat of Chhota Udepur for the past five terms. She joined the party in 1995 and is the wife of BJP district Vice President Vajesinh Rathwa.

Bhatt, who is contesting on a BJP ticket from Vadodara, won the Lok Sabha bye-elections, 2014 from the same state. She is also Deputy Mayor of Vadodara. She has also been a member of the Consultative Committee, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the 16th Lok Sabha and has been a member of the standing committee on industry.

Dr. Shiyal, contesting from Bhavnagar, is the sitting MP from the constituency and is going for a re-election. She is also the former MLA from Talaja in Bhavnagar district elected in 2012 assembly election. Another BJP candidate Poonam Maadam is also a sitting MP from Jamnagar seat and is going for re-election. While she was MLA from Khambhalia in Jamnagar district in 2012, her father was a four-time independent MLA from Khambhalia during 1972-1990. Darshana Jardosh is again a repeated candidate for BJP as she is a sitting MP from Surat who was first elected to the seat in 2009.

While Advocate Hasumati Sarvakar, who practices in Patan Session Court, is contesting independently from Patan to take up Dalit issues in Lok Sabha, Rathva Geeta contesting from Chhota Udaipur, is the first fresh face fielded by the BJP for the seat since 1991.

Congress’ candidate from Ahmedabad East, Gita Patel is a core committee member of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).

These Lok sabha election are crucial to understand why women candidates still don’t have a stronghold in parliament. While the women voters see an upsurge in numbers, in many states even outnumbering men, it is urgent to have representation and participation of women in electoral politics as well.

Picture credit- STP

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