Women representation continued to remain in single digit in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, though results on Tuesday showed a marginal increase in their number to seven in the new house from six who entered the house after the 2013 elections.
Congress’ Lakshmi R. Hebbalkar from Belgaum Rural, defeated in the 2013 elections, won the seat this time.
Other Congress winners included M. Roopakala, daughter of seven-time Kolar MP K.H. Muniyappa; Kaneez Fatima, who represented Gulbarga Uttar; and Anjali Hemant Nimbalkar from Khanapur.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Shashikala Annasaheb Jolle retained her Nippani seat. BJP candidates K. Poornima (Hiriyur) and Roopali Santosh Naik (Karwar) were other winners.
Of the total 2,655 candidates in the fray for 222 seats, elections to which were held on May 12, only 216 were women.
Major parties, like in previous state elections, did not prefer to give tickets to women candidates. While the Congress fielded 15 women candidates, the BJP fielded six, and the Janata Dal-Secular only four.
“This is the reason why we need Women’s Reservation Bill. This is the problem with every party. There is no point saying that I gave 15 tickets, and BJP gave six. The fact is that both numbers are less,” All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev told IANS.
She said that affirmative action is required when social or political factors don’t allow empowerment of a section of society.
“When you are not doing something naturally, you are compelled to do by law,” she said, adding that election after election, every party was falling short of women candidates.
“… men don’t want to share space. They are just not willing to share the political space with women.”
Dev said she feels that the political empowerment of women cannot be judged by one important post a member of the fairer sex is holding.
“You cannot looking at political empowerment of women by just looking at one Chief Minister and one Defence Minister. That’s a fallacy.
In 2013, only 29 women were given tickets by the three major parties. The JD-S and Congress allotted just 11 tickets each to women candidates, while the BJP gave to seven.
Sixty-seven women contested as independents. And of the total 175 women who contested, only six had won.
According to the Election Commission, the number of women voters has increased to 2.44 crore from 2.13 crore in 2013.
In 2013, Umashree was one of the three women MLAs of Congress and was made a Minister in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s Cabinet and expectedly given charge of Women and Child Development Department.
Dev agreed that though WCD was an important department, it was unfair to assign it to women only.
“A lot of things depend on that department… but it should open its doors to men also. It shouldn’t be typecast. It shouldn’t be a norm that it only goes to a woman,” she said.