When Delhi’s 7 Lok Sabha seats go to polls on Sunday, 16 women candidates will be among the 164 people testing their political fortunes. While some of them are confident about getting elected, some others have entered the fray just to register a point.
“We all contest the elections for winning. But it is for the public to decide who they want to elect,” Aditi, the sole female candidate from North West Delhi, said when asked about her chances of winning.
In the battle for North West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, the three main candidates are BJP’s singer-turned-politician Hansraj Hans, Congress’ Rajesh Lilothia and Aam Aadmi Party’s Gugan Singh Ranga.
“You can yourself see how sad the picture is. While 10 male candidates step out to contest the elections, only one female is there. This all happens because the females were always told that their place is inside the house. People don’t encourage women to step out and work,” Aditi said.
The 25-year-old social activist, who is working for the upliftment of the labour class in Bawana and women working as maids in households in the area, added that the mindset of the society is to be blamed for fewer women stepping out.
“Why females are told that their life is in the kitchen? Why women are not encouraged to think? For women to step out, we need to improve the thinking,” she added.
Out of the total 16 General elections the city has witnessed since Independence, for seven times only one female candidate was elected and from the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, it has been a pattern with one female MP elected in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
The city did not elect any female candidate six times and thrice has elected more than one woman candidates.
Two female candidates were elected from Delhi each in the fifth (1971), 11th (1996) and the 12th (1988) Lok Sabha. In the 1996 and 1998 elections, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Congress’ Meira Kumar were elected from Delhi.
Priyanka, who is contesting from New Delhi constituency, says the presence of even a single female is a message.
“Though there are only two females, but they are present. People are free to contest election. It is never about how many males and females are there. But the issues they are taking up is important,” she added.
Deepti Chopra from Prism party said, “My party is new and in this election, our aim is to register our presence and that people should know about the party.”
A homeopathy practitioner by profession, who is contesting from Chandni Chowk constituency, said the contest is “difficult as the three main parties are in the game from long and also canvassed in a better way.”
She said her party has fielded two women, the “maximum” any party has done.
“Initially, our plan was to have three females. But one of our potential candidates had some issue with documents. So we had to drop her. But with two females contesting, we can say our party has given maximum seats to women,” she said with a smile.
She said she jumped into politics as she wanted to serve the people.
On fewer women entering politics, she said females are generally discouraged by their families and close ones besides which they lack confidence themselves.
“The lady herself has to decide if she is ready to deal with the situation. Everything apart from her choice is secondary. The family also plays a crucial role in this but the women should have the confidence that they can take on anything happening around,” Deepti said.
“The politics nowadays is dirty. But we should have faith in ourselves that we can deal with the situation,” she said.
She added that political parties too have to show more faith in women.
The number of females contesting in the national capital in these elections has improved when compared to that of 2014 but decreased from that in 2009.
In 2014, out of 150 candidates,13 were women while in 2009, out of 160 candidates, 18 women contested the elections.
The national capital has over 64 lakh female voters out of total of 1.43 crore total electorate.
In the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, all the seven seats of Delhi are mainly witnessing a triangular contest between Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP in power at the Centre and the Congress.
While all the three parties are vocal about female empowerment, each of them has named only one female candidate among their seven candidates.
The highest number of female candidates are in Chandni Chowk, where out of total 26 candidates, five are women. However, the three parties have named males for the seat.
The five women candidates are 52-year-old Deepti Chopra from Prism Party, 46-year-old Richa Katiyar Kanaujia from Right to Recall Party, 42-year-old Sharestha Arora from Mazdoor Kirayedar Vikas Party, 53-year-old Suman Devi from Bharat Lok Sewak party and an independent candidate 38-year-old Farhadeeba.
In North East Delhi, West Delhi and North West Delhi constituencies, only one female candidate is contesting from each seat.
While three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from Congress is the sole female among 24 candidates in North East Delhi, independent candidate Aditi is the only female among 11 candidates in the fray from North West Delhi.
There is only one woman candidate — 48-year-old Poonam People’s Party of India — among 23 candidates in West Delhi.
On East Delhi Lok Sabha seat, 37-year-old Atishi from Aam Aadmi Party, 38-year-old Deepti Nadella from Pyramid Party of India, 40-year-old Neeru Mongia of Prism Party and 64-year-old Manju Chhibber of the Republican Party of India (A) are fighting elections among the total 26 candidates, including cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir.
In New Delhi Lok Sabha, BJP’s 51-year-old Meenakashi Lekhi — also the sitting MP — is among the two females, with 33-year-old independent Priyanka being the second female among 27 candidates in the fray.
There are two females in the South Delhi seat as well among 27 candidates. 42-year-old Suman Yadav from Jai Maha Bharath Party and 35-year-old Sumedha Bodh from Jan Samman Party are contesting in South Delhi.
In 2009 Congress’ Krishna Tirath and in 2014, BJP’s Lekhi became the sole females to be elected to the House from the city.
Tirath was also the single elected MP from Delhi in 2004, while in 1999, BJP’s Anita Arya was elected from the Karol Bagh seat.
The city has also elected single female MP in the first, second and eighth Lok Sabha. No female was elected from the city in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th Lok Sabha.