Both parties have fielded only 11 women candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections to the 70-member House, while six women candidates will contest polls for Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party.
    
A woman Chief Minister is heading the Congress government in Delhi for 15 years, but the party has fielded only six women which is 8.5 percent of all candidates.
    
The BJP has fielded five women candidates which is 7.5 percent of its total 66 contestants. The party has left four seats to its ally Akali Dal (Badal).
    
The number of tickets given to women candidates by the three leading parties is in sharp contrast to population of women voters in Delhi.
    
According to electoral roll, a total of 1.19 crore people are eligible to vote out of which over 53 lakh are women and 66 lakh are men.
    
Out of 810 candidates in the fray, only 70 are women. In 2008 elections, a total of 57 women candidates were in the fray.
    
The parties claimed that fielding less number of women candidates was not ‘intentional’ but ‘circumstantial’.
    
"The selection of candidates for contesting the polls is circumstantial too. We definitely support 33 percent reservation for women but there are certain factors influencing the actual representation of women in the polls," former Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta said.

A senior Congress leader said the candidates were finalized solely based on ‘winnability’ criteria.

"We would like more and more women to be politically active and come forward to take up the challenge. We have always encouraged women by fielding women candidates and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been a strong example," Congress contestant Kiran Walia said.
    
Some parties felt that only the proposed legislation to have 33 percent reservation for women will change the mindset.
    
"There are definitely many hurdles when it comes to women candidates, discrimination being a major won. It is necessary to have some reservation for women to ensure their participation and representation on the political landscape," CPI-ML member Kavita Krishnan said.
    
Gupta also echoed the same view. "If voted to power we will make sure that the women reservation bill which is pending in Parliament is passed," Gupta said.
    
However, a number of young women were of the view that just having reservation for women will not serve the purpose.
    
"Reservation for women will lead to the same scenario like the caste based reservation. Once the seats are reserved, the candidates will not be voted for their qualities or work but only because of the reservation. The need is to have an effective leader, be it a male or female," said Ranju, a Delhi
University student.
    
Another women professional said, "Women need to be properly counselled to create awareness about how things work and what is expected from them to be a strong political representative."

(JPN/Agencies)

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