BJP’s women leaders demand adequate representation in Bihar
Legislators are angry at the way the party ignored them in the allotment of portfolios
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in Bihar has been left in a peculiar situation with the party’s women leaders seeking “adequate representation” in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, apparently encouraged by a number of their colleagues holding key portfolios in Narendra Modi’s federal government.
What has worked as a catalyst is the induction of Nimala Sitaraman in the Modi Cabinet. Sitaraman, who has been allotted the defence portfolio, is the fourth woman getting a place in Modi cabinet — the others being Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti and Smriti Irani.
The presence of a significant number of female faces in the Modi cabinet has encouraged the women to make demands for similar “share” in the Bihar government where the BJP came to power in July, thanks to Janata Dal United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar suddenly dumping the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance and forming a government with the BJP.
Strangely, the BJP was handed out the mandate to sit in the opposition. The party was able to win only 53 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly despite using all its resources and engaging all its top leaders in the last 2015 assembly polls.
Female leaders are angry at the way the party completely ignored them in the allotment of portfolios this time although four of them were elected to the state assembly.
In the previous NDA governments, at least two females had become ministers. They included Sukhda Pandey and Renu Devi.
“I have been getting elected to the state assembly for the past four consecutive terms and am the senior most among all the present lot of female leaders in the BJP yet I have been ignored in [the] matter of ministerial berths,” Asha Sinha, a female lawmaker, said. “I have conveyed my demand to both the deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and state party president Nityanand Rai.”
Another woman lawmaker Bhagirathi Devi, who comes from the Dalit community, wants a seat at the table.
“I am the lone female lawmaker from the Dalit class and hence the party should take note of my demand,” said Devi.
Yet another female lawmaker Aruna Devi too has made a similar demand.
Currently there is no talk of expansion of the Nitish Kumar cabinet. Instead, the BJP is said to be working on a strategy to hold assembly elections in Bihar together with the Lok Sabha polls due in April 2019.