UP elections: Does 40% ticket reservation for women benefit Congress?
The Indian National Congress will reserve 40% of tickets for Assembly seats in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections for women, party General-Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra announced on Tuesday. Elections for the 403-member UP Assembly are due in early 2022. Support for Congress has dwindled in UP, where caste politics plays a huge role. The party is now hoping to recapture India's most populous state.
Addressing reporters in Lucknow Tuesday, Gandhi said the move would ensure equal participation of women in UP politics. "This decision is for the daughter of Chandoli, the daughter of Unnao, the daughter of Ramesh Chandra, the Valmiki daughter of Lucknow, and for every woman of Uttar Pradesh who wants a change," Gandhi said, referring to recent atrocities perpetrated on women.
Gandhi said that the poll tickets would be distributed on the basis of merit and work done by candidates. "The candidate's competence will determine the ticket," she said, adding that the move aims to "create a new kind of politics. She said, "We will get candidates and will fight, too... If she is not strong this time, she will be next time."
Notably, electoral politics in UP is divided on caste and religious lines. However, Congress now appears to break tradition by bringing gender equality to the fore. Urging women across caste and religious lines to unite, Gandhi said, "If the country is to be taken out of the politics of casteism and religion... toward the politics of equality, then women will have to come forward."
According to the 2019 general election data, women comprised 6.61 crore or 46% of the registered voter population in UP. Growingly more women have participated in recent UP polls. For instance, during the 2012 elections—when Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav came to power—a greater share of registered women voters had cast their votes compared to men. Interestingly, the trend repeated itself in the 2017 polls.
Gandhi has been working in UP for the last three years after the party faced debacles in both the 2017 Assembly polls and the 2019 general elections. Congress leader PL Punia on Sunday announced that Gandhi will be the face of the party's UP election campaign. However, when asked about her candidature, Gandhi said she has not made a decision yet.