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J&K polls: Will a 36-yr-old 'jinx' be broken?

Source: PTI
November 24, 2008 11:31 IST
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As a large number, the fairer sex contests the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir this time, people are waiting to see if a 36-year-old record for the highest number of women in the Assembly will be broken.

It was in 1972 that four women were elected to the legislature, which still remains the highest figure for women MLAs in the state.

Zainab Begum, Hajra Begum, Shanta Bharti and Nirmala Devi made it to the assembly then while four other female contestants -- Khem Lata Wakhloo, Amina Begum, Hassan Ara Begum and Misra Bano -- lost their security deposits after getting very few votes.

All women were elected on Congress tickets.

This year a large number of women are in the fray in the state and it remains to be seen whether the 36-year-old record will be broken or they will have to wait for the next elections.

As many as 10 women candidates are in the fray in the first three phases of elections and a large number are expected to contest in the remaining phases.

While some political observers say the boycott of polls by National Conference in the last polls helped the Congress candidates across the state to win, others negate this claim on the ground that most National Conference leaders took part in elections as Independent candidates.

 However, after 1972, it has been downhill for women as their numbers only declined.

In the 1977 elections there were only two women candidates, of whom one was elected to the legislature. G Kumari won on a Janata Party ticket when an anti-Congress wave swept the country but Parkash Rani of the same party came up against Mangat Ram Sharma of Congress and lost.

 Six years hence again, only two women candidates were there and both lost.

In 1987 elections, seven women contested elections from eight seats but only one was elected to the assembly. Swaran Lata of Congress defeated G Kumari by over 6,000 votes while the rest were routed at the hustings.

 When assembly elections were held in the state after a gap of nine years due to militancy, 10 women candidates jumped into the fray but only two were successful.

 Mehbooba Mufti won from Bijbehara on a Congress ticket while Sakina Itoo of National Conference won from Noorabad segment riding on a sympathy wave following killing of her father by militants.

 The landmark 2002 assembly elections witnessed the highest number of female candidates at that time with 27 women contesting polls but the rate of success was again a dismal two MLAs.

Mehbooba Mufti, who had become the face of regional People's Democratic Party (PDP) formed by her father and former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed after parting ways with Congress, won from the Pahalgam segment while Suman Lata Bhagat came out triumphant from R S Pura seat.

Although Kanta Andotra replaced her husband Lal Singh in the assembly following the by-polls in 2004, the number of women MLAs did not increase as Mehbooba Mufti also resigned from her seat after she was elected to the Lok Sabha. Sayeed replaced his daughter as the MLA from Pahalgam.

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