An election that began with an emphasis on female candidates is approaching its end with only around 700 women candidates in the first seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections-- they account for fewer than a tenth of the total number of candidates and are half the number of those with criminal records.
The data is based on numbers collated by non-governmental organisations National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms. The joint report, released on Monday, looked at 7,928 out of the 8,049 candidates, both male and female, in the poll fray. Some were excluded because of unavailability of complete and properly scanned affidavits. The report said that there were only 717 women candidates in the first seven phases.
The share of women candidates had hit a high during the fifth phase of elections, at 12 per cent. Elections for the fifth phase were held on May 6th and included constituencies in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, among others. It was 11 per cent for the seventh phase.
The eighth and last phase is set will be held during on May 19. It will inclued Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, among others.
Interestingly, 1,500 candidates with criminal cases are contesting the elections. The seventh phase saw 170 candidates with criminal cases in the fray -- including a dozen candidates with murder cases, and 34 with attempt to murder cases.
A number of candidates are charged with crimes against women.
“20 candidates have declared cases related to crime against women such as assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section-354), dowry death (IPC Section-304B), husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty (IPC Section-498A) etc and word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (IPC Section-509) against themselves. Among these 20, two have declared cases related to rape (IPC Section 376)...”, says the report.
The number of candidates with assets of more than Rs 1 crore out-number the number of women candidates, as well as those with criminal cases against them. They account for 29 per cent of all candidates and number over 2,297 across the first seven phases. The seventh phase alone had 278 such candidates and account for 31 per cent of those contesting the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
At Rs 1,107 crore, Bihar’s Ramesh Kumar Sharma had the highest assets in the seventh phase. Shiromani Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Singh Badal (Rs 217 crore) and Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Rs 217 crore) are second and third on the list, respectively.
Nine per cent of candidates in the seventh phase have not stated their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details.