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The Congress Party, facing political exile in the state for nearly three decades, is now betting high on the women voters for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022. AICC general secretary, on Tuesday, announced that 40 percent of the Congress tickets will go to women candidates.

At a press conference in Lucknow, mentioning the 2020 Hathras rape case, she said, “This is a decision for the girl in Unnao who was burnt and killed, whose sister-in-law is fighting for justice even today. This decision is for the mother (of the girl who was gang-raped by upper caste men and then succumbed to her injuries) in Hathras who hugged me and told me that she is not getting justice. This decision is for Ramesh Kashyap’s (a local journalist killed in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3) daughter who wants to become a doctor…This is for every woman of UP who wants change, equality and justice.”

This announcement by Priyanka Gandhi has now shifted focus to women voters ahead of the UP Assembly elections, scheduled early next year. Immediately after the announcement, Bahujan Samaj Party Chief and former Chief Minister Mayawati called it an ‘electoral drama’. Now all eyes are on the move of Samajwadi Party. Political observers are waiting to see whether SP will field Dimple Yadav to counter Priyanka Gandhi. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party also fielded former Uttarakhand Governor and women leader Baby Rani Maurya to respond to Priyanka Gandhi’s announcement.

However, the past Assembly election results suggest why women voters could hold sway in the upcoming UP polls.

According to the Election Commission data, in 2012 Assembly elections, the total number of voters was over 12.74 crore 74 lakh, of which 58.68 percent votes (Over 4.12 crore) were cast by men and 60.28% (around 3.15 crore) by women. In other words, women were ahead of men when it came to casting votes.

Similarly in 2017, the total number of voters was over 14.16 crore. Out of the total votes polled, men had cast 59.14 percent votes (over 4.55 crore) and women cast 63.30 percent (around 4.09 crore) votes. The women voters were again ahead of men in casting votes. In 2007 Assembly elections, 41.91 per cent votes were cast by women compared to 49.35 percent by men. The total number of voters was over 11 crore.

The data shows that women voters have been participating in UP Assembly elections in high numbers and could be decisive for any party.

Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls next year, is significant for the whole country in political terms since it has the highest number of representatives in the Lok Sabha. It is important for the Congress to make a mark in the next elections in order to regain the political power it lost after the massive defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Currently, Congress holds only two states under its rule -Punjab and Chhattisgarh. It is part of coalition governments in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.

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