Women major force in Himachal elections

Having more in number in the list of electors, the women in Hamirpur district are once again going to play a major role in the state assembly elections in general and Hamirpur district in particular. They go to the polling booths in large groups and help the people who worked for them during their time of crisis.

In Himachal Pradesh, there are 22, 68,391 female voters as against 23, 34,248, male voters. They always outnumber men while casting their votes in various elections and are mainly considered as the vote bank of any political party.

As for as Hamirpur district is concerned, there are 1, 80,026 female voters as against 1, 74,197 male voters . Hamirpur is the only district in the state, where the female voters outnumber male voters.

There are five assembly segments in the district and all are dominated by the women. Nadaunta assembly segment tops the list followed by Mewa (reserve), Hamirpur, Bamsan and Nadaun in field of women electors.

With just ninety six hours are left for the polling, the leaders and workers of various political parties particularly, the BJP and Congress are highly upset over the large presence of women in the election rallies and taking their active part during the election campaigns these days. Women who are almost equal in strength with their male counterparts in the state take elections seriously and that is the main cause of worry for the political leaders.

A visit to various parts of the district by My Himachal reporter reveals that women are taking active part in the elections and they are performing the role of front runners to seek votes for their respective political parties.

Since they (Women) are in majority in all the five assembly segments, the BJP rules the district as the party has given preference to women in its various bodies. Women workers of the party go from one place to another in support of their candidates and seek votes by singing religious and election related songs. There was huge rush of such singers at a BJP rally that was held recently in Hamirpur in which Venkaya Naidu was the chief guest. The women singers praised the former chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal in their songs and delighted the crowd with their melodious voices.

The past record of the elections shows that the women voters changed the scenario of the state with their large presence in the polling stations. They gave complete support to the BJP and HVC during the 1998 elections for the anti people stance of the Congress.

Women voters helped the BJP to win the Hamirpur Lok sabha bye election in June 2007, when Prem Kumar Dhumal got 80,059 more than his rival Ram Lal Thakur of Congress. It was due to large presence of women at the polling stations that the BJP was able to get a lead of more than fifty thousand from Hamirpur district alone and that is the main reason that the party is hoping to make a clean sweep of the elections in the district this time.

It is worth mentioning here that the women play major role in the panchayati raj institutions in the state after being given 33% representation on these bodies. They not only chair the meetings of the gram panchayats but also that of Block samitis and Zila parishads effectively.

The decision of the BJP to give 50% representation to women in all of its bodies has helped the party to improve its image among the women folk and the party is sure to get benefit out of it, says Prem Kumar Dhumal, the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh.

The party is committed for helping the women folk to improve their living standard and to move along with men in all fields of the society, Dhumal told My Himachal.

Anita Verma, MLA and the Congress candidate from Hamirpur seat is happy with the massive involvement of women in the political issues. “I see women taking active part in the elections and other related activities. This has helped me and my party and we shall win the majority seats in the state with their (women) help as it is the Congress that gave 33% percent reservation to them in the Panchayati raj institutions by bringing changes in the PRI act at the national and state level”.

The women are, however, unhappy with the Congress this time due to sharp rise in prices of various essential commodities and less employment to them and their wards in the government services.

Suresh Kumari of Hamirpur and Praveen Thakur of Bamsan told My Himachal that wrong policies of Congress this time had harmed the cause of the poor and middle class families and worst affected are the women.” We run the kitchens and know how much the prices have gone up. The figures shown by the chief minister and other Congress leaders in their speeches are contrary to facts and they will realize the ground reality once the elections are over,” they told this reporter.

Political pundits of the state feel that the way, the women are openly taking active part in the elections this time proves that they are going to do something strange this time and that is the main cause of worry for the rulers.

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