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Women in elections: Haryana continues discrimination

Chandigarh: Having a skewed sex ratio, one of the worst among Indian states, is not the only blot on Haryana. The state discriminates against women even in elections.

For the Lok Sabha elections in the state, only 10 women candidates from the overall 230 contestants have been left in the fray for the 10 parliamentary seats, for which voting will be held April 10.

The number of women contesting this time is even lower than the 14 who contested in the 2009 general elections. Of them, only two – Selja (Ambala-reserved) and Shruti Chaudhary (Bhiwani-Mahendergarh), both of the Congress party – won.

This time, the three parliamentary constituencies of Sirsa, Sonipat and Rohtak do not even have a single woman contestant. These seats have 18, 23 and 14 male candidates respectively. While Sirsa is the home district of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) president Om Prakash Chautala, Rohtak is the home district of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

This time around, Shruti Chaudhary, grand-daughter of former chief minister Bansi Lal and daughter of Haryana Excise and Taxation Minister Kiran Chaudhary, is the only woman candidate to be fielded by any major political party from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh, from where she is hoping for an encore. Shruti is the lone woman candidate among 27 in the fray.

The highest number of women candidates – three – is in the Faridabad Lok Sabha constituency adjoining Delhi; against 24 male candidates. Gurgaon has just one woman candidate among 22 in the fray.

“In Haryana, the bias against women, especially in leadership roles and public life, is too stark to be missed. It is a male-dominated world here. Even those who contest and win are related to big male leaders and their families,” Sheweta Ahlawat, a student of sociology in Kurukshetra, told IANS.

For the Ambala seat, which was represented by Selja and who recently resigned as a union minister ahead of being elected to the Rajya Sabha, there is only one woman candidate, an independent. The adjoining Kurukshetra seat, from where billionaire industrialist Naveen Jindal is seeking re-election, has two women in the fray out of 22 candidates.

The highest number of candidates – 41 – are contesting for the Hisar seat. Even here, only one woman is in the fray.

Haryana has a dismal gender ratio of 879 females per 1,000 males. The women’s literacy rate, as per the 2011 Census, is around 66 percent.

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