Congress, SP field lowest no of female candidates

NCP tops list with 60 per cent female candidates, followed by Shiv Sena at 58 per cent for upcoming BMC polls

The civic body elected this year will be distinguished by virtue of the fact that it will be the first-ever BMC house to witness equal participation of men and women, thanks to the diktat issued by the government six months ago, granting 50 per cent reservation to women in local and civic bodies.

With elections to municipal bodies around the corner, MiD DAY decided to check the extent to which different parties in the fray have issued tickets to female candidates. The results were heartening in some quarters, and eye-popping in others.

NCP appears to be the party that has awarded the highest number of tickets for candidature to women, at 60 per cent of its total number of candidates. Coming a close second is the Shiv Sena with 58 per cent. The BJP and MNS, each doled out 49 per cent of their respective tickets to women.

The big surprise however, comes from the Congress, which has, till date allotted a shockingly meagre 44 per cent of tickets to women. The Samajwadi Party too has doled out only 47 per cent of its tickets to female candidates.

Unfair: A group of women prepare placards for the Congress party,
which will be used during the election campaigns. The party has fielded
only 73 female candidates out of the 165 seats that it will be contesting.

Pic/Atul Kamble

Nearly six months ago, 114 of the 227 seats in BMC were reserved for women. This had created quite a stir in political circles, with many corporators losing their seats and many having to field their wives, daughters and even daughters-in-law, in a desperate bid to retain their bastions, even if indirectly.

The MNS failed to even eke out female candidates for three of the seats reserved for women. Though it is contesting for 227 seats, it released a list of only 224 candidates, in the absence of suitable candidates for three wards reserved for women. Of the 224 tickets, only 111 have been given to women, not even accounting for 50 per cent of the total number.

Dilip Kadam, secretary, MNS said, "We didn't field candidates as those are wards reserved for women, and we couldn't find candidates in those wards. and Our party didn't want to field candidates just for the sake of it."
BJP offered a different explanation for fielding such a poor number of women candidates. "It's 50 per cent reservation in total in the house. Moreover, we shave given seats in the open category to women. Whatever tickets we got, we divided equally," said Niranjan Shetty, media-in charge of BJP.

The BJP fielded Shailaja Girkar, the deputy mayor, from an open seat. Their move seems to have compelled the Sena to follow suit, by offering mayor Shraddha Jadhav an open seat.

The Sena awarded 79 of the total 135 seats it is vying for to female candidates. "We had announced earlier that we would give maximum female corporators to the city, and hence we gave so many seats to women. We have a strong and active women's wing," said a  Sena corporator. 73 of the 165 seats to be contested by the Congress were given to female candidates, raising eyebrows. "It's ironic that a party headed by a woman couldn't find enough female candidates to account for even 50 per cent," said a party leader.

However, party spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, "We had decided that we would only issue tickets to women for seats that are reserved for them, in order to maintain the balance in the corporation."

The NCP trumped others, fielding 35 of its 58 candidates to women. "It was the dream of our party to have a municipal corporation with 50 per cent women, and when it came to distributing tickets, we decided to give a maximum number of female candidates to the city," said Uday Pratap Singh, general secretary, NCP-Mumbai.

Family matters
The Congress included the names of two political scions in its list � Prathamesh Kolambkar, son of Congress MLA Kalidas Kolambkar, and Nitesh Singh, son of the Leader of Opposition in the BMC, Rajhans Singh. Sagar Singh, son of MLA Ramesh Singh Thakur, was given a ticket, and Aslam Shaikh's sister was accommodated at the last moment. The Shiv Sena has given a ticket for the Thane civic body to MLA Pratap Sarnaik's son Vihang Sarnaik, and even one to his wife.

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