Chandigarh, Oct 8 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana has decided to count for glamour and popularity by fielding a social media actress, wrestler and a foreign returned fashion designer to win the war of votes in the poll arena.
But the saffron party, which in its poll manifesto in the recent Lok Sabha elections promised to reserve 33 per cent of seats in Parliament and state Assemblies for women, has fielded 12 female candidates in the 90-member Assembly, which is just 13 per cent.
This is despite the fair sex constitutes 46 per cent of the total electorate of 1.83 crore.
The family-ruled regional faction Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is more gender neutral by fielding 15 women — the highest among the political parties.
The Congress and INLD’s breakaway faction the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) have fielded nine and seven women candidates, respectively.
The BJP’s list include two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Babita Phogat from Dadri, TV actress Sonali Phogat from Adampur and London-returned fashion designer Nauksham Chaudhary from Punhana in Nuh district.
TikTok sensation Sonali has been pitted against three-time legislator Kuldeep Bishnoi from the Congress.
Multi-millionaire Bishnoi is the son of three-time Chief Minister Bhajan Lal whose family has never lost any Assembly election from Adampur in five decades.
Nauksham Chaudhary, 28, who owns two luxury cars as per her poll affidavit, is the Miranda House alumnus, who also studied in Italy and London and returned to India just a month ago. Her family is an influential one in Mewat, one of the most backward areas in the state.
The trio is political greenhorn and the party has never won from these seats.
Development of roads and provision of education and basic amenities are among top of priorities of Nauksham in this Muslim-dominated seat.
For Babita Phogat, daughter of wrestling coach and Droncahraya Award winner Mahavir Singh Phogat, whose character was played by Amir Khan in blockbuster “Dangal”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an inspiration.
“When you are representing a country in international competition, the country’s prestige is at stake. Likewise, when you are working for a (political) party, you have to deliver and work with devotion for a cause,” she told IANS.
Her mother was a sarpanch twice.
In her election campaigns, small screen actress Sonali Phogat is targeting the Bishnoi family by staying they would disappear from the constituency for five years once the election is over.
The BJP includes a three-time legislator and Cabinet Minister Kavita Jain, who has been fielded from Sonipat.
Another BJP candidate, Prem Lata, the wife of former Union minister Birender Singh, is in fray from Uchana Kalan.
Latika Sharma from Kalka, Seema Trikha from Badkhal, Santosh Danoda from Narwana and Asha Khedar from Uklana are other BJP candidates.
In a major setback for the Congress ahead of the polls, its women wing chief Sumitra Chouhan resigned and joined the BJP.
The Congress, which has Kumari Selja at the helm of state affairs, has fielded nine women candidates. They include former ministers Kiran Choudhry from Tosham and Geeta Bhukkal from Jhajjar.
Naina Chautala, the first woman from the Chautala clan to contest and win an Assembly election in 2014 after her husband and father-in-law, Ajay Chautala and O.P. Chautala respectively, were convicted and imprisoned in January 2013 for the junior basic teacher recruitment scam, is a force to reckon with.
She is in the fray from Badhra as a JJP candidate.
Naina’s ‘Hari Chunari ki Chaupal’, a campaign to mobilise women voters for the JJP floated by her sons — Dushyant and Digvijay Chautala — after severing political ties with the INLD in 2018, has been quite a hit in the state, especially in rural belts.
Swaraj India, which earlier announced to field 33 per cent women, has fielded five women among its 28 contestants.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, there were 162 women among the 1,565 candidates. There were 13 women winners, a record in the state since its inception in 1966.
A total of 1.83 crore voters will exercise their franchise for the 90-member Haryana Assembly on October 21. The results will be declared on October 24.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)