Madam Mufti Leading…

In an otherwise male-dominated politics, Mehbooba Mufti defeated 12 rivals to enter the Indian parliament for the second time, a first for any women candidate. Syed Asma reports the overall participation of the women in LS polls from J&K

Mehbooba-Mufti-

For a woman getting older is no good news but Mehbooba Mufti, six days short of turning 55, got a big reason to celebrate! She looks jubilant while putting the knife across the colourful cake celebrating her win, her victory!

Madam Mufti is now the first woman to make it to the Indian parliament for the second term.

First time she made it to the house after she won elections 2004 in south Kashmir. Though, her performance in the house was not much appreciable.

The Akhran, Nowpora born Mufti is a top women contender from Jammu and Kashmir who has performed exceptionally well as compared to other woman contenders.

One of the New Delhi based newspapers referred to the other women contenders of Jammu and Kashmir as ‘also-rans’.

This election Mufti defeated her top opponent, a National conference man, Dr Mirza Mehboob Beg, from Sarnal, Anantnag, by a margin of 65,000 votes. The total contesting candidates were 13.

Mufti did not contest last elections and Dr Beg had managed a win then, election 2009.

It seems she has fully cashed the anti-National Conference sentiment which she along with her other party members were always talking about while campaigning. This trick seemed to work for them!

The first lady from Jammu and Kashmir to make it to the Indian Parliament was Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah’s wife, Begum Akbar Jahan, after she won from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in the 1984 general elections.

Jahan and Mufti have been the only women victors in Lok Sabha polls so far. They both belong to strong political families and have had a fairly easy going in the polls.

Daughter of a former union Home minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayyed, Mehbooba Mufti joined politics in 1996 and contested her first Parliamentary election in 1999 as an independent candidate from Srinagar. She then polled 60125 votes losing with a margin of 36859 to Omar Abdullah who was representing National Conference.

Changing the strategy, she after five years in the next election, contested from south Kashmir and managed to win. In 2004, Mufti got 74436 votes out of 150219 votes polled, sweeping over 49.55% of the total share in the South constituency of the Valley.

Mufti, a law graduate from University of Kashmir, has separated from her husband in 1980’s and has single-handedly raised her two daughters, Iltija and Irtiqa. Her husband, Javaid Iqbal, led an independent political career and joined National Conference in 2008.

table-1The other women contestants who participated in election 2014 were Rabia Baji, an independent candidate and Amrit Barsha, a Samajwadi party candidate, both losing their fortified deposits. Rabia got 864 while as Amrit got 1842.

Rabia, a 46-year-old, till recently a less known face was in news after dozens of Kashmiri students were expelled from universities of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, for supporting Pakistan in a cricket match. All those students were sent to different Indian universities through her NGO, All India Centre for Urban and Rural Development (AICURD) under Prime Minister’s Scholarship scheme.

A Muslim reverted Pandit woman, Rabia, is married to a non-political guy, a Pashmina manufacturer, Mohammed Altaf, resident of Soura, Srinagar.

Rabia in her days of university was an Indian National Congress worker.

Besides, another woman candidate, Amrit Barsha, 52, was the Samajwadi Party nominee for Udhampur where she was up against 12 rivals, including Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad.

There were four more women candidates who had filed their nominations although they were rejected or withdrawn later. That includes Ulfat Sabba Ahmad in Baramulla constituency.

Besides, there is no female candidate contesting from Ladakh Lok Sabha seat.

Over the years in elections, besides a thin representation of women, their performance has been very poor as well. Almost 90% of them had to forfeit their deposits.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, six women had contested from the state but none managed a won. Five contestants among them had to forfeit their deposits.

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The candidates included Gowsia Bashir – an independent candidate, Khalida Begum representing JKANC, Mehbooba Shadab – an independent candidate from Srinagar. From Udhampur, it was Kanchan Sharma representing BHBP and Shakeela Bano, an independent candidate from Jammu

The only candidates who had performed comparatively well was Thinless Angmo from Ladakh. She had got 22256 of the total making it 20.73% of the total. She was the only one who didn’t have to forfeit her deposits.

In 2004, of four women contenders, 3 had to forfeit their deposits. Mehbooba was the only woman contestant who managed a win in Jammu and Kashmir.

The other contestants included, from Srinagar -Darashan Andrabi, a SDP candidate and Mehbooba, an independent candidate.

From Anantnag, it was Mehbooba Mufti and from Jammu it was Sudesh Puri.

The woman contenders took over 78277 out of 1167567, making it a 6.70% of the total valid votes.

Though the overall performance of women representatives contesting elections has been fairly poor but as voters they have contributed almost equally with their men counterparts. Over the years, their participation in voting has been 46.1%.

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