By Subrat Das*
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has played a master stroke by announcing yesterday that his party will give 33 percent ticket to women for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. His announcement has put other political parties under pressure to give more representation to women.
Out of total 3.18 crore total voters in the state, 1.54 crore are women. So they are a major vote bank for the political parties.
Naveen had earlier proposed to reserve 33 percent seats in the Parliament and the state legislatures for women. The Odisha assembly had passed an unanimous resolution urging the Centre to take steps in this regard. Naveen has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers and also presidents of all national and regional parties.
To take this move forward, Naveen yesterday announced at a women convention at Kendrapara that the Biju Janata Dal would field 33 percent women for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
Reacting to it, Pradesh Congress Committee vice president Arya Gyanendra described the announcement as an ‘election stunt’. “If he is really keen on women empowerment, he could have taken 33 percent women in his ministry”, he said. “We will also field eligible women in the coming elections”, said Gyanendra.
BJP Mahila Morcha state president Pravati Parida said her party had given 33 percent representation to women in the party organisation. “In the coming elections too, many eligible women candidates will be given party ticket”, she said.
On the other hand, ruling BJD spokesperson Arun Sahoo hailed Naveen’s announcement saying that it had created challenges for other political parties. He said that earlier BJP had promised in its election manifesto that it would provide 33 percent reservation for women. “But this promise has not been fulfilled”, he said.
In the outgoing Lok Sabha, BJD had three representatives- Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh (Kandhamal), Rita Tarai (Jajpur) and Sakuntala Laguri (Keonjhar). In the 147 member- state legislative assembly, BJD had 11 women legislators and BJP one.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.