Ranchi: The bypoll to the Mandar assembly seat is likely to be a fight primarily between two women after BJP candidate Gangotri Kujur filed her nomination papers here on Monday afternoon, the last date of the nomination process.
Kujur (58), a former MLA and postgraduate from Ranchi University, will lock horns with Congress’s 32-year-old candidate Shilpi Neha Tirkey, daughter of on June 23.
CPM, on the other hand, has fielded Subhash Munda while two more male contestants have separately filed their nominations for the bypoll.
The last time two women candidates from major political parties fought against each other for one particular assembly seat was during the Jharkhand assembly election in 2019. Congress had then fielded Purnima Niraj Singh, the 34-year-old widow of slain former Dhanbad deputy mayor Niraj Singh, against her sister-in-law Ragini Singh from BJP.
Ragini was the wife of the then outgoing Jharia MLA Sanjeev Singh, who was being tried for hatching the plot for Niraj’s murder. Purnima won by over 12,000 votes.
According to the statistics of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), as many as 128 women candidates had contested across all 81 assembly seats in 2019. Of them, only 10 became legislators after winning their respective seats. Of the total women MLAs, four are from Congress, three from JMM and another three from BJP. Political observers are certain that regardless of who wins Mandar, the number of women legislators in the assembly will become 11 soon.
“The women lawmaker will comprise nearly 13.6% of the strength of the 81-member House, which is the highest so far since Jharkhand’s inception,” ADR Jharkhand’s Sudhir Pal said.
On being asked why the presence of women in electoral politics in the state was low, Pal said, “Primarily, a political party gives its ticket to a candidate based on his or her winnability. That apart, the nature of political parties is mainly masculine. One does not see many women candidates from the middle class or lower middle-class families unless they come from the women wing or SC/ST wing of a particular party like BJP. Moreover, the parties are reluctant to spend more money on their women candidates as opposed to their male counterparts,” Pal said.
Meanwhile, Congress, which is eyeing the Mandar seat after a gap of 21 years (Bandhu Tirkey won it last as a JVM-P candidate), will propose the names of chief minister and JMM working president Hemant Soren and the tribal party’s president Shibu Soren as their star campaigners along with its own lawmakers, ministers and leaders.
“All star campaigners for the poll will be from Jharkhand itself,” state Congress president Rajesh Thakur said.
However, when Congress released its list of 40 campaigners for the bypoll, none from JMM were included.

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