On the occasion of International Women's Day, free food items were distributed for women voters at a polling booth in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. On Wednesday, the northern state voted for the seventh and final phase of assembly elections too. Thus probably, the Election Commission thought of pampering the taste buds of women voters, who came to vote at a polling booth in Aurai, Bhadohi, with some mouth-watering dishes.
The pictures of the polling booth-- decorated with balloons and flowers--and women voters enjoying their food look perfect. But beyond the photo opportunity, the reality is grim, especially when it comes to the number of women candidates in election fray. According to a report by Association of Democratic Reforms, only around 8 per cent women candidates out of total 836 contestants tried their luck in the first phase of Uttar Pradesh voting on February 11. Similarly, in the final and seventh phase of polling in the state, out of 535 candidates, only 51 are women. Thus in the entire UP assembly elections, less than 10 per cent women candidates are contesting polls. In fact, all political parties are guilty of not giving tickets to more women candidates. In 2012, the Samajwadi Party had sent the highest number of women legislators to the UP Assembly, according to an IANS report. Twenty-two women candidates from the SP had won then. A total of 582 women were in the fray in 2012 assembly polls in UP. A total of 37 women legislators were elected to the state assembly in 2012.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had come a distant second with seven women candidates winning the polls in 2012, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party with three each are in the third slot. On March 11, when the results of the assembly polls will be declared, we will know how many women candidates have succeeded in making their entry into the new UP Assembly.

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