Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Shaina NC has criticised political parties across the board, including her own, for not fielding enough women candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, the BJP leader said parties have a “male chauvinistic mindset”. “It requires political will, respect for women, belief in women as a votebank...not just lip service to our cause, manifesto after manifesto,” the publication quoted her as saying. “Here on, I will champion the cause of reservation even if I have to fight the male chauvinistic mindset in my party and all other parties.”
She also praised the Biju Janata Dal in Odisha and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for fielding a large number of female candidates this year. While Naveen Patnaik’s BJD has given 33% tickets to women for the Lok Sabha elections, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool has 41% female candidates.
In Maharashtra, where the BJP is contesting 25 seats, it has put up seven women. “Seven candidates – you think that’s enough?” she said to The Indian Express. In comparison, the Congress has fielded only three women in the state, which has 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in all.
The BJP leader has not been given a ticket this year, but told the daily that it was not about her. “We all want to fight elections, but this is not personal,” she said.
Shaina NC, who has contested elections only once before, in the 2004 Assembly polls in Maharashtra, has raised this concern several times in recent days. Speaking to Mirror Now news channel on Thursday, she said, “I hope that women leaders across the board will raise their issues with their parties.”
On March 31, she tweeted that she is “upset and appalled” that all parties other than BJD and Trinamool had only “paid lip service to our cause”. Earlier, she said on Twitter that parties across the board need to give more opportunities to women. “All political parties need to wake up. Women are 50% of the electorate.”
Shaina NC, who is also the BJP treasurer in Maharashtra, has frequently spoken up in favour of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve 33% seats in Lok Sabha and state legislatures for women. The Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2008 and was cleared by the Rajya Sabha but lapsed before it could be implemented with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 2014.
The Congress, which promised to pass the Bill if it comes to power in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, has also fielded 47 women out of the 343 candidates it has announced so far, a representation of 13.6%, reported News 18. The BJP has fielded 45 women out of the 374 candidates announced so far, which comes to 12%, the report said.