By Subrat Das*
Bhubaneswar: Even as the Biju Janata Dal has kept its promise of fielding 33 percent women for the Lok Sabha election, the women representation in any of the three prominent party’s Assembly candidate list has not touched even 15 percent.
Chief minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik had played women card by proposing for making 33 percent reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. On November 21, 2018, Odisha assembly had passed an unanimous resolution urging the Centre to make the provision of 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assembly and thereafter he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and heads of all the national and regional parties to make this idea a reality. He had announced to field 33 percent women for Lok Sabha elections this time and implemented it.
BJD has fielded women candidates in seven of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while BJP has set up three and Congress two women candidates respectively for the parliamentary election this time.
However, the women representation among the contestants of the three prominent parties of the state for the Assembly poll has not been that encouraging. For the 147 member Assembly, the ruling BJD has put up 18 women candidates, while BJP has fielded twelve and Congress ten contestants from the fair sex. So, women representation by none of the three prominent parties has reached even 15 percent.
But the ruling BJD has been ahead of other rivals. It has renominated its nine of its eleven women MLAs including two women ministers Usha Devi and Snehangini Chhuria and also brought its lone woman Rajya Sabha member Sarojini Hembram, daughter of veteran tribal leader, Chaitanya Prasad Majhi and Kalyani Gajapati, scion of Parala royal dynasty to woo voters of Baripada and Paralakhemundi assembly seats respectively.
On the other hand, BJP has renominated its lone sitting MLA Radharani Panda and fielded two Odia film stars Aparajita Mohanty and Pinki Pradhan in Bhubaneswar North and Digapahandi assembly constituencies. Mention worthy among the party’s women candidates are former minister and former BJP Mahila morcha national president Surama Padhy and state womens’ wing president Pravati Parida.
Similarly, Congress has fielded Anita Biswal, youngest daughter of former chief minister and party veteran Hemananda Biswal and Subhashree Panda, wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda among ten of its women candidates.
However, strangely Biju Janata Dal has not put up its spokesperson Sulochana Das and party’s women wing president Minakshi Behera, while BJP has not fielded its one of the visible leaders Lekhasree Samantasinghar. Meanwhile, two of its prominent women leaders-Pradesh Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena and party’s spokesperson Sonali Sahu- have quit the party in protest as they were denied party ticket.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.