Bangalore: Come elections, and all the right noises that political parties make about providing 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies dies down. More “practical” considerations — which in plain speak means the muscle and money power — take over.
If the 33 per cent logic is applied to the 28 constituencies in Bangalore, each party would have to give about nine seats to women. But the number of women in the fray tells a different story. While the BJP has given two seats to women, all other major political parties have given one seat each. The Left parties have two candidates in the fray for the whole of city and one of them is a woman.
Though party loyalties take over in the run up to the elections, women party workers and candidates themselves admit that it is “doubly difficult” for women to bargain for their rightful share of B forms. Rani Satish, former president of the women’s wing of Congress, was denied ticket on the ground that she is “an outsider” to Bangalore.
Ms. Satish says in a tone of resignation that women’s demands are particularly difficult to meet in the election this time since there is “no system in place.”
The profile of women in fray suggests most of them are no less eligible than their male counterparts in terms of their experience and educational qualifications. Consider these two ends of the spectrum of politics: while the 70-year-old BJP candidate, Pramila Nesargi, is a senior advocate and former chairperson of the Karnataka Women’s Commission, 40-year-old Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate from K.R. Puram, Gowramma, is a former garment worker and who has been actively organising women workers since the mid-90s.
Ms. Nesargi says women in her constituency are “thrilled” to see a woman candidate canvas. In fact, the Vijayanagar constituency is a rare instance of woman-power stealing a march over their male counterparts. It has the highest number of women contesting, three from major political parties and one as an independent.
Ms. Gowramma says that as Karnataka’s electoral politics gets increasingly dominated by real estate and mining lobbies, women’s entry into it will get only tougher, especially for those from a background like her own