BENGALURU: The 15 women nominated by Congress so far, four by JD(S) and three picked by BJP must gear up for a tough battle. If voter behaviour in the past six Vidhana Sabha elections is anything to go by, Karnataka is no place for women politicians. The electorate rejected nine of 10 women who contested in the past six elections — 1989 to 2013 — with eight of 10 even losing their deposits.

On an average, only 5% of women who contest elections manage to win in Karnataka, with the 2008 and 2013 elections reporting just 3%. The electorate gave the thumbs up to only 38 of 641 women contestants.

Compared to 11 other major states — West Bengal, Rajasthan, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra — the winnability of women candidates is the lowest in Karnataka.

“The number of women entering mainstream politics itself is less. If more women who are in social service and working closely with people enter politics, they will be chosen by parties as ultimately parties need candidates capable of winning,” BJP’s Shobha Karandlaje said.

Experts point out that women contesting from big parties have a greater chance of winning, and that most women either contest as independents or from small parties is also an handicap. However, there are also women like Lakshmi R Hebbalkar who lost on a Congress ticket.

Khushbu Sundar of Congress says: “Karnataka has not seen a woman chief minister. It’s better in states like Tamil Nadu or West Bengal which have seen a woman rule. The percentage reflects the mindset of voters. They need to believe women are capable of taking up the responsibility of serving them.”

‘Reservation helps’

“Reservation is certainly a way forward for better representation. The system is dominated by men, and with every passing election, politics is getting dirty and this puts off women. Only those with some political background or people like me who are already popular are able to survive,” YSR Congress’ RK Roja said.

Anila Saldanha from Goa-BJP, however, says: “More women need to get involved in activities that deal with people’s welfare. People need to know and have confidence in them, and that requires long-term commitment.”

Basavaraj Horatti of JD(S), while conceding that major parties do not field enough women candidates, says women who have been working on the ground and popular with people also get picked.

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