LUCKNOW: The Congress’ star women candidates, who entered the election fray as a symbol of struggle with the slogan ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’, secured less than 3,000 votes each and had to even forfeit their deposits.
Living up to the party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s promise to give 40 per cent of the tickets to women candidates, the Congress fielded 148 of them, of which only one – Congress Legislature leader Aradhana Mishra Mona – secured victory.
From Unnao’s Sadar seat, the Congress had fielded Asha Devi, the mother of a rape victim. The grand old party had also engaged its team of workers from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to campaign for her. However, Devi bagged only 1,555 votes.
On Devi’s electoral defeat, her daughter told PTI, “My mother has definitely lost the election, but we want to support the struggle of women and victims, and become their voice. We will not back off.”
She said she refrained from entering the fray this time, against Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s wish, because she was young, after which the Congress fielded her mother Asha Devi.
“I will contest the elections in 2027. I have already started preparations,” the rape victim asserted.
The Congress had fielded Sadaf Jafar, who was jailed during the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, from the Lucknow Central Assembly seat. Jafar, however, could get only 2,927 votes.
She said, “The media polarised the election and made it only BJP vs SP, so people did not vote for other candidates. But I have started preparing for the next elections. Whether I lose or win, I will continue my struggle for the people of my area.”
Nida Ahmed of Sambhal, who entered politics leaving behind television journalism, also campaigned vigorously as a Congress candidate. Since Nida belonged to a political family of Sambhal, she commanded popularity among the public, but could not turn it into a contest in her favour. Nida secured only 2,256 votes.
She told PTI, “I was cheated in the polls. I had over 150 votes of my family from two booths. But the EVMs on those polling booths registered only five votes from both the booths. Did my husband, my parents and siblings not vote for me? The votes of the public used to disappear… now the votes of the family, too, have disappeared.”
“I have definitely lost the election, but I have not lost courage. I will come back in the fray again and win,” she added.
Congress candidate from Hastinapur Archana Gautam has been ‘Miss Cosmo World 2018’, and ‘Miss UP 2014’. She is a graduate in Mass Communication and was the Dalit face of the Congress. Gautam was also trolled for wearing a bikini. She secured only 1,519 votes.
“I got very little time for campaigning. I entered the fray 15 days prior to the polls, and in this short span of time, I campaigned in about 100 villages,” she said.
Gautam said she was disappointed with the defeat and was preparing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections if Priyanka Gandhi Vadra gave her a chance.
Another candidate Ritu Singh had contested the elections from Lakhimpur Kheri’s Mohammadi Assembly. In the panchayat elections, she was harassed and her clothes were pulled. It was after this incident that the Congress general secretary met her and got her to contest the Assembly polls. Ritu, however, got just 2,419 votes.
Neha Tiwari, the elder sister of Khushi Dubey, a co-accused in Kanpur’s infamous Bikru case, was fielded by the Congress from Kalyanpur Assembly seat in Kanpur. Though several prominent leaders of the party campaigned fiercely for her, she got only 2,302 votes.
Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said the election results of its women candidates will be reviewed. He said there is no disappointment in the party due to their defeat and the Congress will still continue to work for women.