Elections 2019: Has CM Naveen misplayed women reservation card?

Bhubaneswar: BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s announcement that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would field 33% women candidates in Lok Sabha seats seems to have rendered all calculations and assessments useless. More disconcerting though is the fact that the party currently has only three women parliamentarians and all eyes are now on who’s going to face the axe, if the party goes for 33% women candidates.

This big question here is that as per Patnaik’s announcement, the party will have to field at least seven women candidates in the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats which included three of its women MPs from Keonjhar (Sakuntala Laguri), Kandhamal (Rajeswari Singh) and Rita Tarai (Jajpur). Though it is believed that CM Naveen might have played the ‘women reservation card’ to back its own claims made earlier, in the party’s current scheme of things, the BJD may find it difficult to find suitable women candidates.

As per reports, there is a high likelihood that BJD may field seven women candidates in these Lok Sabha constituencies- Sundergarh, Jajpur, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Nabarangpur, Berhampur and Kandhamal.

Though BJD MLA Pramila Mallick’s name is doing rounds for a MP ticket, she stated that she prefers to remain a legislator. “People want me remain an MLA, but I will decide as per the instructions of CM Naveen,” said Pramila.
Kandhamal MP Rajeswari Singh, who is likely to get ticket once again, said, “I have given my 100 per cent in serving the people of Kandhamal. I wish CM Naveen will give me another chance to serve the people.”

On the other hand, State BJP alleged that the incidents of violence against women has increased manifold in 19 years of BJD rule and it’s absurd that such a party, which is grossly insensitive towards the safety and security of women, is talking about women empowerment through reservation.

“Naveen babu had been silent in all these 19 years when women were getting harassed by his own party leaders. And why only reservation in LS seats, the CM should announce 33 per cent reservation for women in assemably seats too,” said State BJP secretary, Lekhashree Samantsinghar.

Moreover, it is believed that no party will leave any stone unturned to woo women voters, which comprise 50 per cent of the total electorate of Odisha.