This story will be updated as and when more candidates are announced.
Women politicians are upset and for good reason: For years, political parties have talked about reserving 33% of seats in the parliament for women. But this can’t be made possible if parties won’t even allow women to contest elections.
This week, two women politicians from the BJP expressed their frustration at being denied a ticket.
On 33% reservation, Shaina NC commended TMC and BJD and said “all other parties pay lip service to our cause.”
All political parties need to wake up. Women are 50 percent or the electorate. Upset and appalled to know that other than @MamataOfficial who has given 41 percent and @Naveen_Odisha who has given 33 percent to women candidates all other parties only pay lip service to our cause. pic.twitter.com/ZKVriLlvLS
— Shaina NC (@ShainaNC) March 31, 2019
Eight-time parliamentarian Sumitra Mahajan also said she would not contest, as the BJP seemed slow to give her a ticket despite her eight successful wins.
Sumitra Mahajan not to context Lok Sabha elections. Says party did not declare her name & felt hesitance on part of @BJP4India hence she is herself took the decision not to contest. pic.twitter.com/XPI3AhQFOe
— Kartikeya Sharma (@kartikeya_1975) April 5, 2019
This week, the Congress manifesto promised to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill if elected. In 2014, both the Congress and BJP had promised an equal representation of women at national and state levels.
Congress has fielded the most number of women so far
Giles Verniers, a professor at Ashoka University in Delhi, is tracking the number of women candidates per party.
The Congress has fielded the most number of women candidates so far. In a set of tweets that Verniers put out, he pointed out that the Congress has fielded 47 women out of 344 tickets it has distributed.
The BJP is a close second, with 45 women out of 374 candidates.
The only other party sending over 10 women to the polls is the Trinamool Congress, which is sending 17 women out of 42 candidates, so far.
BJP: 45/374, 12%
INC: 47/344, 13.7%
AITC: 17/42, 40.5%
PSP (Lohia), 3/35, 7.9%
SP: 5/29, 17.2%
AMMK: 3/23, 13%
SHS: 1/22, 4.5%
ADMK: 1/21, 4.8%
DMK: 2/20, 10%
NCP: 2/18, 11.1%
BJD: 7/19, 36.8%
JD(U): 1/17, 5.9%
TRS: 2/17, 11.8%
BSP 1/12, 8.3%
— Gilles Verniers (@gilkumar) April 3, 2019
A report in News18 looked at Lok Sabha MPs from 1957 to 2014. In the current parliament, there are 66 women MPs (11%) out of 543 MPs. This means nine out of every ten parliamentarians, are men. In 2014, Congress fielded 60 women in the 464 seats it contested, with women making 12.9% of all its candidates. BJP fielded 38 women out of 428, making it 8.9% of all their candidates.
The gender imbalance in elections can also be made sense of when women candidates are viewed as a percentage of all candidates.
Only TMC and BJD are implementing the “33%” ideal
While reserving 33% of seats for women in parliament is a long way away, at least two parties have tried to walk the talk of representation and affirmative action within their own parties: West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress and Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal.
This is important because even though the Congress and BJP have fielded 47 and 45 women respectively, their number is overwhelmingly small when compared to the number of men fielded by the same parties. These 47 and 45 women will be jostling to be heard, against 297 and 329 men respectively, even within their own parties.
“Other parties are talking about 33% reservation for women in parliament, but we have reserved 41% seats for women,” said TMC’s Mamata Banerjee last month, while announcing the candidates for her party.
So, for this general election, her party has fielded 17 women out of 42 candidates in total, essentially sending 40.5% women candidates to the polls.
This makes TMC the party with the most number of women as a percentage of all candidates fielded.
BJD’s Naveen Patnaik had also promised to send 33% women to the Lok Sabha. “In the 1990s, former CM late Biju Patnaik had shown the way to the entire nation. It was he who for the first time in India had implemented 33% reservation for women in the three-tier Panchayati raj institutions and government jobs,” said Patnaik.
BJD has kept its word, fielding 7 women out of 19 candidates in total. Women candidates thus form 36.8% of the BJD’s hopefuls for this election.
Others with a double digit percentage score on women candidates include: RJD (17.6% women), SP (17.2%), AMMK (13%), TRS (11.8%), NCP (11.1%), DMK (10%),