Karnataka

Bypolls: No woman candidate in more than half the constituencies

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This is despite a 13% rise in women voters in State since 2013

Of the 15 constituencies where byelections will be held on December 5, not a single woman candidate is contesting from eight seats. What is more, there are no women contestants even in constituencies where women voters outnumber or are almost equal to male voters.

Despite a 13% rise in the number of women voters since the 2013 Assembly elections till now (as per Election Commission data), relatively, the number of women candidates fielded by all main political parties has been abysmally low.

While the constituencies of Yellapur and Hoskote have two women candidates each (which is the highest), Kagwad, Vijaynagar, Chickballapur, Yeshwantpur, and Mahalakshmi Layout have one candidate each. No women are in the fray in Athani, Gokak, Hirekerur, Ranebennur, K.R. Puram, Shivajinagar, K.R. Pet, and Hunsur.

In contrast, women voters outnumber men in Gokak, Vijayanagar and Chickballapur by an average of at least 3,000 voters this time. In the remaining constituencies, women voters are almost equal or only a tad less than their male counterparts. Women are way behind in numbers either because party leaders are only considering the “winnability factor” or women themselves are shying away from politics because of the money and muscle power needed to win elections.

Track record

This is hardly a surprise if you look at Karnataka’s track record. While the total number of women candidates went up from 170 in 2013 to 219 in the 2018 Assembly polls, most of the 219 were Independents and not from recognised parties. At 15, Congress had fielded the highest number of women candidates in 2018. But, even that is a mere 6.8%.

While the BJP officially gave seats to five women (2.3%), the JD(S) fielded six women (2.75%). Only seven of these women won the election and none of them was an Independent. While four of them are from the Congress, the remaining are from BJP.

Terming this as gross discrimination, Saraswati Chimmalgi of the Mahileyara Rajakiya Hakkina Horta Samiti (committee to demand political rights to women) said it was unfortunate that all parties considered only the winnability criteria.

“Without any encouragement and push, most women themselves want to stay away from politics, especially at a time when it has become a game of money and muscle power,” she said.

‘Court should intervene’

“It is high time that the courts intervened and ensured that reservation for women is strictly followed by all parties. We have examples of women leaders, who have performed better than their counterparts, when given a chance,” she said.

K.S. Vimala, State vice-president, Janawadi Mahila Sangathane, said the deteriorating values and ethics in politics is also one of the factors because of which women are staying away. “This is true especially in this bypolls, which have been necessitated owing to politics of defection. Moreover, parties do not consider representation of women to be important and essential,” she added.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:55:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/no-woman-candidate-in-more-than-half-the-constituencies/article30063338.ece

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