Parties ‘Underconfident’ of Fielding Females in Bypolls? 22 Women Among 355 Candidates in MP, Only 1 Won

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After the conclusion of the high-voltage bypolls in Madhya Pradesh it emerged that from the 28 assembly constituencies, only a single woman MLA, Sumitra Devi Kasdekar, won the by-election from Nepanagar in Burhanpur.

A former MLA of Congress party, Kasdekar had earlier resigned from the party and joined Bharatiya Janata Party soon after. There were 355 candidates in the fray and only 22, or 6%, were females.

When it comes to fielding women in bypolls, parties have hardly reposed faith on their women leaders. The trend includes national parties. Among the mainstream political parties like BJP and Congress, the former had fielded Imarti Devi from Dabra and Sumitra Devi Kasdekar from Nepanagar, who are both Congress rebels.

The Congress party had fielded Parul Sahu, a BJP turncoat from Surkhi in Sagar district, who lost to Govind Singh Rajput, also a turncoat who had resigned from the Congress party in March this year.

The popular BJP candidate Imarti Devi Suman, a Congress rebel, had lost narrowly to Suresh Raje, also a former BJP man who had joined the Congress in Dabra at the behest of Imarti.

Ramsiya Bharti, a kathavachak (religious narrator) by profession, in Malhera in Chhatarpur, lost to Paradyumn Singh Lodhi. Uma Bharti had thrown her weight behind her old disciple — Pradyumn Singh Lodhi, who had left BJP to join Congress ahead of 2018 assembly polls and early this year left Congress party to return to the party fold after Kamal Nath lost power.

BJP spokesperson Neha Bagga said the bypoll scenario was different as the saffron party had names “pre-declared”. The party, however, had more female candidates in 2018 assembly polls than fielded by Congress. “Our party also takes lead in appointing women as Chief Ministers and at key posts nationally including in union cabinet,” added Bagga.

Congress party senior leader Vibha Patel too accepted that there were some constraints in bypolls but said the party believed in offering women chances in politics. “It was late PM Rajiv Gandhi who had brought reservation for women and people used to ask from where all these women will come from,” said Patel, adding that “things were changing” and women would produce results if given the chance.

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