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The House That Passed A Bill To Reserve 50% Of Local Govt Seats For Women Is
Himanshu Kaushik | TNN
Women’s power in the Gujarat assembly leaves a lot to be desired. Less than 10% of the 182 MLAs in the state are women.
Since Gujarat was formed in 1960, women’s representation has never exceeded 16 MLAs of 182 members. The highest representation, 16 women MLAs, were in elected in 1985 and 2007. 1995 had the most women candidates in the electoral fray, when 95 women candidates contested, but only two were elected.
Ironically, the state assembly which passed a bill to reserve 50% of seats in local self government for women, doesn’t even have 10% of women in the house. The same bill — since it was accompanied with the provision for compulsory voting — has been turned down by governor Dr Kamla. This bill, however, also did not ensure reservations for women in the assembly.
Interestingly, of the 16 women MLAs in the present house, 15 are from the ruling BJP with just one in the opposition. Congress party sources said, “When it comes to opposing the government on women and child development, we have only one face that is Chandrikaben Bariya, consequently the men have to speak a lot on such issues,” said the leader. Of 27 ministers in the cabinet, only two are women — revenue minister Anandiben Patel and junior minister for higher
education Vasuben Trivedi. The BJP has also appointed Ushaben Patel as party whip in the assembly.
However, Mahila Congress president Sonal Patel says, “This time, we have urged the state Congress chief and even the high command to allow at least one candidate in each district in the state, if not more.
There is more awareness now with the corporation and local self government having 33% reservations for women and people are now more confident about voting for women candidates.
BJP Mahila Morcha president Jayshreeben Patel says the BJP has always given adequate preference to the fairer sex. Even in 2007, the BJP gave tickets to 22 women candidate and of these, 15 won. Patel too echoed a similar feeling as her Congress counterpart.
She said, “Voters are less confident when it comes to voting for women. The trend is changing in the state as there are 250 odd village panchayats where women are sarpanches, and moreover, they have been elected unopposed.” She expressed hope for greater representation for women this time around.