| Women display their voter identity cards at a school in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Heightened awareness, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, led to an increase in women voters’ participation this Lok Sabha election.
Around 18,12,987 voters exercised their franchise in 1,713 polling stations to decide the fate of 19 candidates in the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, among which Shatrughan Sinha (BJP), Kunal Singh (Congress), Parveen Amanullah (AAP) and Gopal Prasad Sinha (JD-U) were the main contestants. Twenty candidates were in the fray in the Pataliputra constituency.
Based on the data claimed by the presiding officers at different polling booths, out of the total electorate who voted on Thursday, 8,31,435 women — around 31 per cent — exercised their franchise. Women were seen waiting for their turn to caste their votes in serpentine queues despite the heat. Around 22 per cent voters pressed the button in the morning.
Sanchita Agarwal, a resident of SP Verma Road, was among the early birds at polling booth number 68 of Government Girls’ High School at Dakbungalow roundabout. “Homemakers do not have any holiday on election day. On Thursday, my priority was to vote first and then complete my household work,” said Sanchita.
The women came out in groups and participated in the biggest democratic festival by excising their franchise to vote.
At a few polling booths, women outnumbered male voters, while some of them accompanied their husbands to cast their votes.
H.N. Chaturvedi, along with his mother, wife and daughter exercised his franchise. His wife Ranjana said: “This year, women will play an important role in contributing to the democracy. I have been voting for the past 15 years. But for the first time, I saw women turning out in such a huge number to cast their votes. This elections, they are not making excuses such as household work and parenting for not casting their votes,”
Parveen Amanullah, the AAP candidate from Patna Sahib constituency, was seen at Patna Women’s College cross-checking the electoral process. Amanullah said there has been a marginal growth in women casting votes across the constituency. “Women took part aggressively this general election. The voter awareness programme made a difference in the turnout,” said the former minister.
The women turnout at polling booth numbers 295 and 124 at Kadamkuan and Kankerbagh were really surprising. Till 2pm, out of the 503 female voters registered, 171 had cast their vote at St Severin’s School Kadamkuan.
Dr Ajay Singh, a resident of Kadamkuan, said: “I have been voting for the past 23 years. When I went to the booth, I was surprised to see the number of women voters making a beeline to cast their votes. Ten years ago, not more that 10-15 women could be seen at the booth. This is surely women empowerment,” said Ajay.
The voting percentage of female voters across the state was 28.33 per cent in the 2009 general election.