Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik’s announcement to field women candidates in 33 per cent of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state has received praise. Hindustan Times lauded it in its editorial on Tuesday. While the BJD’s move is commendable, the editorial said other parties should also emulate it, because women in India are casting their votes more frequently and in greater numbers.
But the job is half done. To strengthen the quality of policy and governance, parties must choose women candidates who have a good track record, not just those who ride on family backing and monetary power. And one important pool of representatives that they must tap is the panchayat segment. There are many women representatives who have done extremely good work at that level despite structural and social hurdles. They must be groomed to be leaders at the Assembly and national level, the editorial said.
Naveen has, however, not extended the same policy to 147 Assembly seats where the BJD is up against the BJP. Still, his announcement does make a progress, it said. The editorial also highlighted Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s reiteration to get the women’s reservation bill passed in Lok Sabha if the party comes to power. Such focus on expanding women’s political representation, it said, is a positive trend.