Fighting polls and patriarchy in Haryana

Notorious for its “patriarchal mindset” and crime against women, including honour killings, Haryana has only nine times elected women candidates to the Lok Sabha in the 13 general elections held since its formation on November 1, 1966.

In other words, the women Lok Sabha MPs from the State comprise only 7.03% of the total 128 MPs elected from Haryana since 1967 general election.

Indian National Congress’ P. Wati was the first woman candidate to contest the Lok Sabha election from Ambala in Haryana in 1967. She polled 1,19,303 votes but lost to Bharatiya Jana Sangh’s S. Bhan by a margin of just 8,700 votes.

First win in 1977

No woman candidate contested the 1971 general election in the State. Bharatiya Lok Dal’s Chandrawati became the first woman to a win Lok Sabha election in Haryana in 1977 when she polled 2,89,135 votes in Bhiwani constituency. However, the same election, INC’s Subhashni managed to secure only 15.56% votes from Sonipat and lost her deposit.

Of the five women politicians elected to the Lok Sabha from Haryana, Kumari Selja of the Congress has been elected four times — twice each from Ambala and Sirsa Lok Sabha seats. She represented Sirsa in 1991 and 1996 and Ambala in 2004 and 2009. Similarly, Kailasho Devi won twice from Kurukshetra on Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) and Indian National Lok Dal tickets in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

In 1999, Sudha Yadav, a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, won from Mahendragarh, while Shurti Choudhry, the granddaughter of late Chief Minister Bansi Lal, won from Bhiwani in 2009.

Tough fight

In what further highlights the dismal performance of women candidates in Lok Sabha elections in Haryana, 60 out of 78 times they contested the polls, they lost their deposit. The women candidates fared the worst in the 1984 general election when all 10 of them, including BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, the incumbent External Affairs Minister in the Narendra Modi government, lost their deposit. In 2014, 10 of the total 11 women candidates lost their deposit and in 2009, 12 of the total 14 candidates suffered the same fate. Also in 2009, the women candidates contested on the maximum of nine Lok Sabha constituencies out of the total 10 in the State.

The two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — fielded women candidates only eight and six times respectively till the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In 2019, the Congress has fielded two women candidates — Kumari Selja from Ambala and Shruti Choudhry from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh — and the BJP has fielded only one — Suneeta Duggal from Sirsa.

Political analyst Ram Kanwar said the predominantly patriarchal mindset of society in Haryana prevents women from entering and making it big in politics. He said that it’s not looked upon with respect for women in Haryana to join politics and therefore the women from non-political families refrain from doing so. He said that two of the five women elected from Haryana had political background. “Even if a woman wins at a village or zila parishad-level in Haryana, the show is mostly run by her husband or other male members in her family,” said Mr. Kanwar.


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