Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday said his Biju Janata Dal will allocate a third of its party tickets to women in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported. The state sends 21 members to the Lower House of Parliament.

In the elections in 2014, the Biju Janata Dal had won 20 of the 21 seats from Odisha, of whom three were women.

Patnaik did not make any such announcement for the Assembly elections, which are expected to be held in Odisha along with the Lok Sabha elections. The 147-member Odisha Assembly has 12 women.

The Election Commission is expected to announce the dates for the polls in a press conference later in the day.

“In 2012, your government had made 33% reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions,” Odisha Sun Times quoted Patnaik as saying at an event in Kendrapara. “In a first, the state government last year had passed a resolution on 33% reservation for women in Parliament and Assembly. I had sent a proposal to all the political parties and chief ministers in this regard. I announce from the historic land of Kendrapara that 33% women will represent Odisha in Parliament. Odisha will show the nation the way towards women empowerment. This announcement will create history across the nation.”

The BJD chief urged national political parties to “follow what they are propagating for women empowerment”, IANS reported.

In December 2018, Patnaik had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks 33% reservation for women in state Legislative Assemblies and Parliament, is passed in Parliament. In November, the Odisha Assembly had passed a resolution seeking reservation for women in Assemblies and Parliament.

On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had promised to work for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament and provide free education to women if his party is voted to power.