New Delhi: Of the more than 200 women who contested in the Karnataka assembly elections, seven won—most of them from the Congress party.

Among the winners, the two who won by huge margins were from the Congress. Laxmi R. Hebbalkar defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sanjay B. Patil by 51,724 votes in Belgaum Rural constituency, and Roopakala M. from Kolar gold field constituency defeated BJP’s Ashwini Sampangi by more than 40,000 votes.

Political parties in the state had as usual pitched women as being central in their approach to governance. Yet, female candidates comprised barely over 8% of the total number of contestants, and eventually 3% of the newly elected legislators turned out to be women.

One of the slogans of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he started off his campaign for the state election was, “Beta, Beti Ek Saman." Despite this, the BJP fielded only six female candidates, not even 3% of the total number fielded.

Congress had 15, the most, and JD (S) four. Of the winners, four were from the Congress and three from the BJP.

In Hiriyur constituency, K. Poornima of the BJP defeated Congress’s D. Sudhakar by 12,875 votes. In Karwar, BJP’s Roopali Santosh Naik won by 14,064 votes, defeating JD (S)’s Anand Vasant Asnotikar.

In Khanapur, Congress’s Anjali Hemant Nimbalkar defeated the BJP’s Vithal Halgekar. In Gulbarga Uttar constituency, Congress’s Kaneez Fatima won, defeating Chandrakant B. Patil.

In Nippani, BJP’s Jolle Shashikala Annasaheb won, defeating Congress’s Kakaso Pandurang Patil.

A cursory look at the profiles of the women contestants this year shows around 25 were Muslims, six were illiterate, two had doctorates, and 13 had criminal cases against them.

In the 2013 elections, there were 175 female candidates out of a total of 2,945. The Congress gave tickets to 8; the BJP had 7 contestants and JD (S) had 12. Sixty-seven of the women candidates were independents. With just three female representatives in the house, the state has one of the lowest women representations in assemblies across the country—at less than 3% of the total strength.

In fact, it was in 1962 that Karnataka had the highest representation of women in the state assembly.

Eighteen of the 30 women candidates fielded had won the polls then. While symbolic gestures such as pink polling booths and pro-women empowerment talks happened during the election, the results in this state, which has never had a female chief minister, show it is perhaps time parties in Karnataka walked the talk.

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