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With a 48% vote share, women will take center stage as Himachal is ready for polls

Women, who make up 48 percent of the total voters in Himachal Pradesh, will play a crucial role in determining the direction in which the tide will turn in the coming polls. Their influence on the final results can be clearly seen in the political parties that do their best to gain support in towns and cities.

With a whopping 27.3 lakh women out of a total of 55.9 lakh voters in the state, the candidates are doing everything they can to tailor their posts to female voters. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) relies on the Center’s women-oriented programs, be it Ujjwala Yojana or Ayushman Bharat launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress has countered it with its grand poll pledge to pay every woman Rs 1,500 per month to be provided above the age of 18. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is also contesting the elections this time, has also pledged Rs 1,000 per month for women.

CALLS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

There may be only 15 female candidates running from 68 parliamentary seats in Himachal, but that hasn’t affected political parties’ fervent call for gender empowerment in their election speeches.

“We have pledged to give each woman Rs 1,500 per month to help her become financially stable. Nai to sadak sone ki bhi hogi, tab bhi log ko fark nai padega. Unlike other parties, our main focus is on improving livelihoods through employment,” said congressional candidate Sudhir Sharma as he addresses a rally of female voters in Jheol village, even mentioning Gujarat’s model of Amul, run by women, to make his point clear.

With a literacy rate of 73.5 percent, women in Himachal are believed to vote independently regardless of where other family members vote, and this could be a deciding factor if the state goes for polls on Nov. 12.  (News18)
With a literacy rate of 73.5 percent, women in Himachal are believed to vote independently regardless of where other family members vote, and this could be a deciding factor if the state goes for polls on Nov. 12. (News18)

With a literacy rate of 73.5 percent, women in Himachal are also believed to vote independently of where other family members vote, and it could be a deciding factor if the state goes for polls on Nov. 12. of women turned out to vote compared to men in the previous state elections in 2017. The vote rate among women was much higher at 78 percent, as opposed to just 70 percent among men.

In Kangra, BJP candidate Pawan Kajal calls on Prime Minister Modi in his speeches as he urges female voters to support a party that has brought their children home safely from war-torn Ukraine. “Under Prime Minister Modi, your children are safe. Your family will receive free hospital treatment under HimCare, Ayushman Bharat, and free LPG connections and subsidized electricity are already provided,” he says.

Resentment AGAINST RISING PRICES

Since most government decisions directly affect women, they are clearly at the center of each party’s election campaign and express their views. “Iss vaar vote dena e naiSantosh, 45, from Kachhiari village in Kangra, said indignantly. “Do you know how expensive everything is now? The LPG cylinder costs about Rs 1,200, and the utility bill is higher than ever. All this while our children are still at home without work. So why should I vote?”

In 2017, the vote rate among women was much higher at 78 percent, compared to only 70 percent among men.  (News18)
In 2017, the vote rate among women was much higher at 78 percent, compared to only 70 percent among men. (News18)

The anger at rising prices is evident in the villages and the lack of youth employment, especially after the pandemic, has angered female voters even more. Sitting in one of the public gatherings in Kangra, Neelam, 38, jokes: “Times have changed now and we cannot be fooled. We may not say it, but most of us have a reasonable sense of understanding who to vote for.”

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