BJP’s women lead­ers de­mand ad­e­quate rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Bi­har

Leg­is­la­tors are an­gry at the way the party ig­nored them in the al­lot­ment of port­fo­lios

Gulf News - - India -

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.


Nir­mala Sithara­man

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