Women were obstructed from participation in polls- Upinderjit, Jagir Kaur


Chandigarh: The women did not engage in political process during the Zila Parishad and Samiti polls in Punjab despite that 50 percent of the seats were reserved for them and they were free to contest from other constituencies too.

Squarely blaming the Congress for it, two former Akali ministers Upinderjit Kaur and Bibi Jagir Kaur said that the ruling party had vitiated the political environment to the extent of creating a fear psychosis in fair sex to venture out to participate in political activities.
In a joint statement issued here today, the duo said that the news of wide spread violence, booth capturing and ensuing skirmishes and clashes when such attempts were resisted and the police  remaining passive spectators on the polling day  had  dissuaded the women from reaching the polling booths to exercise their right of voting.
“The low turnout, especially of women voters, only reconfirm our assessment that women were discouraged for voting”, the duo added.
Pointing out that the poll process was vitiated from the day one of filing of nominations as at various offices, the women Akali leaders said only the candidates were permitted entry while the first timers-women aspirants were little conversant with various procedures and badly needed the assistance of their male supporter.
On the contrary, the Akali leaders the Congress men had thronged the offices of the returning officers in huge numbers without any let or hindrance. In these crowded offices, even the non-Congress members had to struggle a lot to reach while women were totally scared and failed to navigate their way to the returning officers.
The presiding officers too compounded the problems of the non-Congress women candidates by raking up frivolous queries and wild objections in a bid to discourage and dissuade them entering the fray.
However, the women candidates belonging to the ruling party were ensured all facilities and their nomination papers were readily accepted and even anomalies were subsequently corrected.

Ironically, the women candidates were conspicuously absent from campaigning, going from doo to door, meeting voters or addressing corner meetings   while they were contesting. Their presence was negligible, the duo added.
Both Upinderjit and Jagir kaur said that all irrespective of political persuasion should ensure that th poll process at  grass root level should remain peaceful, democratic and  participative  where women feel safe and encouraged to articulate the peoples’ problems especially of women and children. Raising the quantum of reservation is welcome and was essential but not sufficient to ensure women participation.