Womenâ€™s representation is cutting a sorry figure in Karnataka this Lok Sabha election, with a total of only 27 women contesting from 28 seats in the state. Only 15 women will be contesting from 14 seats going to polls the first phase on April 18, and 12 women will be seeking mandate from the remaining 14 constituencies voting in the second phase on April 23. These numbers stand out in stark contrast to a total of 496 male candidates in the fray in the state this general election.
The seats that go for polls in the first phase are Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumakuru, Mandya, Mysuru-Kodagu, Chamarajanagara, Bengaluru Central, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru South, Chikkaballapura and Kolar and will have 227 male candidates in the fray.
Meanwhile, Chikkodi, Belagavi, Bagalkote, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal, Ballari, Haveri, Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Davangere and Shivamogga are the Lok Sabha constituencies going to polls on April 23. And seven among these â€”Raichur, Koppal, Ballari, Bidar, Gulbarga, Haveri and Shivamogga â€” have no female candidates contesting.
Therefore, while there is less than one woman candidate on average per Lok Sabha seat in the state, the mean is much higher for men at 18. Out of the 26 women candidates, only three are from prominent parties â€“ the Congress, JD(S) and the BJP.
The Congress, which is batting for 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, has only fielded Veena Kashappanavar from Bagalkot. She is the wife of former Congress MLA from Hungund, Vijayananda. Their ally JD(S) has fielded Sunitha Chavan from Bagalkote, who is the wife of Nagathan MLA Devanand. The BJP has stuck with incumbent Udupi-Chikkamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje from the constituency.
However, this is not the first time that Karnataka has seen such a low representation of women during elections. In fact, in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, only 20 women were in the fray from the state. Of them, BJPâ€™s Shobha Karandlaje was the only woman to win a seat in the state.
Even in the 2018 state assembly elections, barely 8% of the candidates were women and only seven of the 200 who contested got elected into the Assembly.