Political posters point to gender divide in Rajasthan

By  IANS | Updated:  Mar 08, 2019, 09:51 AM

rajasthan lok sabha elections 2019
As the Lok Sabha elections near, the political posters in the Rajasthan capital reflect a stark gender contrast.
While the Congress leadership is being represented only through male faces, the Bharatiya Janata Party is displaying the image of a prominent woman politician in its posters.
Most of the Congress posters here carry the images of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Deputy Chief minister Sachin Pilot and other state ministers such as Raghu Sharma, along with the images of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and state election in-charge Avinash Pandey.
The BJP posters, on the other hand, carry a prominent image of former Chief Minister of the state Vasundhara Raje, along with the images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, state election in-charge Prakash Javadekar and state BJP unit President Madanlal Saini.
This contrasting scenario comes at a time when Rahul Gandhi has asked the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states to get their Assemblies pass resolutions seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament and the state legislatures. 
What the posters indicate is that in Rajasthan at least, the Congress leadership is facing an abject lack of women leaders, though this may not be the case in other states.
In a recent press conference, Gehlot had said: "Winnability remains the criteria for contestants. If we see that a woman candidate has winnable qualities, she will be promoted (given a ticket)."
In the same context, Pilot had told media: "We will ensure that at least six women candidates are given a chance in these (Lok Sabha) elections." However, the statement also came with "ifs" and "buts", as he too followed Gehlot's dictum of winnability.
Asked about the lack of female faces in the posters, Pilot said: "There are many posters carrying the image of state Congress Vice President Archana Sharma. We are trying to bring in more female faces on our platform, but the winnability criteria also needs to be considered."
Archana Sharma, who lost the Assembly elections last December by a slim margin of 1,701 votes against former state minister Kalicharan Saraf, told media: "Politics still carries a patriarchal mindset in India. There is a need to mentor women leaders from the grassroot level. The senior leaders should try to give better political exposure to the women leaders, which will help increase their numbers."
Sharma's fate in itself is hanging in the balance with the Congress framing a guideline to avoid giving tickets to both the losers and the winners in the Assembly polls.
Not surprisingly, there is only one woman in Gehlot's council of ministers -- Mamta Bhupesh, Minister of Women and Child Development, Minority Affairs and Waqf. 
Against this, the previous BJP government in the state was not only headed by Vasundhara Raje, but also included two prominent women as ministers -- Kiran Maheshwari (Higher Education) and Anita Bhadel (Woman and Child Development).

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