Patna, April 6: In the last Assembly elections, women turned up in large numbers across the state to vote. In at least nine of the 38 districts they outnumbered men voters.
The Nitish government’s moves to reserve 50 per cent panchayat and civic body seats for women, give bicycles and uniforms to school-going girls, form women self-help groups and improve law and order in the state led to the large turnout of women voters and helped the then NDA government put up a spectacular show. In the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, JD(U) leaders hope women voters will bail them out.
Ironically, for a party seeking the support of women, the JD(U) is losing women MLAs. Parveen Amanullah quit the party recently. On Sunday, JD(U) state president Bashishtha Narayan Singh said action would be taken against three women MLAs — former minister Renu Kushwaha, Poonam Yadav and Anu Shukla — for anti-party activities. The MLAs’ husbands are to blame for the action. Renu’s husband Vijay Kushwaha joined the BJP to contest from Madhepura. Despite chief minister Nitish Kumar’s persuasion, Renu stepped down from the ministry and said she would not campaign against her husband. Anu, at the prodding of her jailed husband Munna Shukla, announced she would contest as a rebel from Vaishali. Poonam former MLA Ranvir Yadav’s wife. Ranvir’s second wife, Krishna Yadav (Poonam’s younger sister), is contesting from Khagaria Lok Sabha seat on an RJD ticket. “All three women MLAs are being punished for obeying their husbands,” said a JD(U) leader.
“In rural areas, women still abide by decision of male members. If Nitish got women’s votes in the Assembly polls it was with the consent of male members in their family. It’ll take a cultural revolution to make women ideologically independent from male members,” sociologist Hetukar Jha said. Women still turn up in large numbers at Nitish’s rallies.
“The day Narendra Modi and Nitish were addressing public meetings in Nawada, there was a huge turnout at Modi’s event but there were fewer women. In contrast, there were a couple of hundred women at Nitish’s rally,” said a senior JD(U) leader. The BJP denied women support Nitish. “Women worry only if the next government at the Centre will check price rise. They’ll vote for Modi,” BJP MLA Sukhda Pandey said.
“The action against women MLAs reflects a revolt-like situation in the JD(U). This will lead to political instability after the polls for which Nitish would be to blame,” former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said. “As to who they will vote for, the cycles do not matter, this is the Lok Sabha election,” Modi said.