In a first, BJD to keep 33% of seats for women

Odisha CM and BJD president Naveen Patnaik put his promise of giving greater representation to women in electoral politics into practice, announcing hours before the Election Commission declared the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections schedules, that his party will reserve 33% of its LS poll tickets for women.

This is the first time any political party in the country has done so; the move is likely to further endear him and his party to women voters. Naveen’s announcement means BJD will field at least seven women candidates from the 21 parliamentary seats on offer in Odisha.

Women voters are considered to be the key behind BJD’s electoral success in the past two decades. Of the 3.18 crore voters, over 1.54 crore are women. In 2014, the party had fielded two women candidates — from Jajpur and Keonjhar Lok Sabha seats — while another was elected to the Lower House of Parliament later in the Kandhamal by-election.

Naveen said the announcement would create history in the journey of women’s empowerment in India and the women of Odisha would show the way. With this decision, Naveen follows in the footsteps of his father, former Odisha CM Biju Patnaik, who had announced 33% reservation for women in panchayat raj institutions and government jobs in the early 1990s. “If India is to lead the world, if India is to be an advanced nation like America and China, women’s empowerment is the only answer,” Naveen said.

The BJD president was instrumental for the Odisha assembly passing a resolution on ensuring 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies. He had written to PM Narendra Modi seeking his intervention on clearing the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. But the announcement was met with derision. 

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