Bhopal: The city of begums in Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal – where women ruled for over a century, has got its first woman MLA from city’s Govindpura seat since the creation of the state in 1956.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP’s) Krishna Gaur, daughter-in-law of former Chief Minister Babulal Gaur, won from the Govindpura constituency with a margin of 46, 359 votes. She defeated Congress’s Girish Sharma, the election commission data says. Krishna Gaur had been mayor of Bhopal.
There are seven assembly constituencies in Bhopal — Govindpura, Berasia, Bhopal Uttar, Huzur, Bhopal Dakshin Paschim, Narela and Bhopal Madhya. The main political parties in the state – BJP and Congress – had fielded three women candidates from the state capital.
The BJP had given ticket to Krishna Gaur from Govindpura constituency, and to Fatima Rasool Siddiqui from Bhopal North constituency, while the Congress had pitted Jayshree from Berasia. All the three women candidates who were contesting the assembly elections were first timers.
Parties like Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had also fielded women candidates from Bhopal. Altogether, there were 14 women candidates in the poll fray in the city, which is the highest ever. In the past three elections, there were three, four and five women candidates contesting from the city, respectively.
There was at least one woman candidate contesting from all the seven constituencies of Bhopal.
The 14 women candidates for this assembly polls from Bhopal were Kavita Singh, Reena Saxena, Radha, Maya Charde, Krishna Gaur, Jolly Sarkar, Sita Ramji Pateriya, Pushplata Tiwari, Rani Yadav, Sana Naaz, Fatima Rasool Siddiqui, Arjumand Khanam, Jayshree and Anita Ahirwar. Of them, three were Muslim candidates.
Besides Krishna Gaur, another candidate of the BJP, and the lone Muslim candidate of the saffron party, Fatima Rasool Siddiqui, who was contesting from Bhopal Uttar, got 55,546 votes against Congress’s heavyweight and five-time MLA Arif Aqueel. Aqueel won the seat with a margin of 45,000 votes.
Congress’s Jayshree Harikaran from Berasia constituency gave a tough fight to the BJP’s Vishnu Khatri, but lost the seat with a margin of 12,000 votes. Among the women candidates, Khatri recorded second highest share with 64,035 votes, while BSP’s Anita Ahirwar from the same constituency got 3,199 votes.
Bhopal had been a land of begums, and from 1819 to 1926, the city (then Bhopal Riyasat) was ruled by a number of women rulers such as Qadsia Begum (from 1819 to 1837), Begum Sultan Shah Jehan (1844 to 1860 and 1868 to 1901) Nawab Sikandar Begum (from 1860 to 1868), Begum Kaikhusrau Jhan (1901 to 1926). The last woman ruler was Sajida Sultan (from 1960 to 1971). They ruled until the Union government abolished royal entitlements in 1971 through the 26th amendment of the Constitution of India.
After winning the title of first woman MLA of Bhopal, Krishna Gaur said that women empowerment is one of the main motives of her for coming into politics. “It is an honour to become the first woman MLA from Bhopal. I had served as the mayor, now, I will serve as an MLA. I will try to live up to the expectations, and raise women’s voice in the assembly,” she said.
While Fatima Rasool of Bhopal North said, "This was the first time when a woman candidate was fighting from Bhopal Uttar on a big party's ticket. I have lost the election, but not the courage. I will fight with more power in the coming days."
Besides Krishna Gaur, Fatima Rasool Siddiqui of BJP, Jayshree of Congress and Anita Ahirwar of BSP, most of the women candidates who were in the poll fray, fighting as independent candidates, secured less than 500 votes.
It will be unjust if the name of Maimoona Sultan was left out from the list of women leaders of Bhopal. Before the creation of Madhya Pradesh, Maimoona had contested from Kotri (Sehore) assembly constituency in 1951, and had won. Bhopal was not a district then, and fell under Sehore.
Senior journalist LS Hardiniya said, “It is a good sign that the land of begums got its first begum MLA. No woman candidate had ever won an assembly seat from Bhopal except for Krishna Gaur. Although, it is a matter of time to see how she performs.”