• Women determine political mandates: An obvious but overlooked election insight

    The state of Uttar Pradesh has population density and diversity, highest number of Rajya Sabha seats, 912 women for every 1000 men and memories of Badaun which linger. What it also has are women who have exercised their voting rights in a democracy to heavily influence the future of our country. In India’s most populous state, about 63.26% of woman voters cast their votes in the seven-phase assembly election. Their male counterparts are behind what is almost a four percent lead, as only 59.43% went to polling booths. Thanks to perhaps its women, today the state of Uttar Pradesh has a clear mandate, not a hung assembly.

    Women have time and again surfaced in party manifestos and election promises but this year’s state assembly elections tell us of a future where they will not only be unmissable, but also drive political change as voters. UP does not stand in isolation, more women than men have turned out to vote in Manipur, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand as too. The Election Commission hints at women’s increased access to education for fueling these trends.

    Women have time and again surfaced in party manifestos and election promises but this year’s state assembly elections tell us of a future where they will not only be unmissable, but also drive political change as voters. 

    It is important to note that the speculations before the UP elections have heavily revolved around the politics of caste and religion, of Yadavs and Jatavs, of Kairana and Muzzafarnagar. The so called Muslim vote bank was being seen as a major obstruction between the BJP and victory. The vote banks had been put in place for calculations, the math was in order. Yet UP’s Muslim women have shown that the political mood a community do not stop at what it’s men have to say.

    The issue of triple talaq

    The BJP has maintained a strong stance against the triple talaq and on the long run, it may have shaped the view women have of the party. SheThePeople talked to political analysts to get an insight about the same. “I do think that the triple talaq issue affected the election, it did reflect as a gender divide in the Muslim vote. When we think of the Muslim vote, we think of all the mullahs and hardliners who claim to represent the community, but there is a clear gender divide within the Muslim community on the issue of triple talaq. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that they are for the move to abolish the practice of triple talaq.” says Nalin Mehta, political scientist and senior fellow at India Development Foundation.  ”As you move towards the politics of development as opposed to the politics caste and creed, women’s issues will factor in, across party lines” he adds.

    A record number 38 women MLAs have been elected in Uttar Pradesh, despite political parties giving tickets to only 96 women candidates.

    At the same time, NDTV’s political editor, Rahul Shrivastava has reservations. “I think that the issue of triple talaq has only reached to women who are really emancipated and educated in order to affect their votes.” he says, but goes on to describe two other trends which have influenced women voters.

    1. The first is the BJP’s promise and focus of curbing the law and order situation in the state.
    2. Secondly, the Ujjwala Yojna which is aimed at granting LPG connections to women below the poverty line has delivered the message to the grassroots.

    A record number 38 women MLAs have been elected in Uttar Pradesh, despite political parties giving tickets to only 96 women candidates. This indicates the support and faith women candidates enjoy among voters. As for the high turnout of women as voters in the UP elections, they have done the first Indian state with a woman Chief Minister proud!