Were you glued to the Gujarat election vote count all morning? It was an incredibly and unexpectedly close-fought race between the Congress and the BJP after an early lead by the latter, and everyone was keeping an eye on the numbers this morning, until now it’s finally been reported that the BJP secured its fifth term in the state.
But in the midst of all this anticipation and excitement, let’s not forget that no matter who wins, it’s a lose-lose situation for women. This Gujarat election has fielded the lowest number of women candidates in a state election. Out of 182 seats, the BJP has fielded 11 women candidates, and the Congress a measly ten. Gujarat has a population of over six crore, of which 48 percent are women.
Of course, the run-up to this election saw both parties using women as tools of rhetoric in impassioned speeches and other election-time gimmicks, like when Rahul Gandhi publicly questioned Prime Minister and erstwhile Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the absence of justice and safety for women in Gujarat on 3 December, or when Modi spent time on 2 December video chatting with 5,500 women BJP workers, to encourage them to reach out to other women for votes in the upcoming elections. Or even more murkily, the sinister, unclaimed political advertisements that spread the message that the BJP was the saviour of women because they were responsible for the invalidation of triple talaq, or worse still, that Gujarat would become unsafe for women and “dangerously” filled with the sound of azaan if the BJP went out of power.
So, while every political party is happy to contort themselves into shameful positions for women to vote them into power, it feels like the idea of women actually governing themselves is simply out of the question.