Bihar’s women give thumbs up to Nitish KumarBy IANS
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
NEW DELHI - Reservation in Panchayat bodies, job opportunities, social security and, most importantly, respect — Bihar’s women got it all with Nitish Kumar as chief minister and were thus more than motivated to vote in large numbers to make sure their favourite leader came back to power.
“Bihar has seen development for the first time since last five years. Elections were without fear. Women are no more afraid of working late nights. We didn’t want Lalu Prasad’s government to come again and curb our freedom,” Vibha Singh, a housewife from Patna, told IANS.
Shruti Kishore, a 22-year-old working with an NGO, said: “Earlier, my parents would have never allowed me to work in Patna for security reason. In that case I would have had to move to metros to build my career. But now things are different and sometimes I reach home late in the night, but I am fearless.”
Bihar witnessed a record turnout of women during the six-phase assembly poll. According to an Election Commission report, the overall percentage of women votes was 54.85 percent compared to 50.70 percent for men. In nine of Bihar’s 38 districts, the turnout of women voters was over 60 percent while women outnumbered men in 23 other districts.
Commenting upon the enthusiasm of the women voters, RJD leader Lalu Prasad had said: “Yes, women have voted in greater numbers. The woman casts her vote only where the men tell her to. Rabri Devi will vote only where I ask her to.”
But the general view among women is that the Nitish government gave importance to women and didn’t make false promises.
“Bihar is the only state giving 50 percent reservation to women in Panchayat bodies. There is a transparency in the government,” said Sangeeta, 42, who doesn’t get panicky if stuck at the work place after dusk.
Aruna Kumar, a lecturer said: “The women voted for Nitish for three main reasons. He provided education facilities for poor people, made commuting easier and provided medical facilities even in the interiors of the state. The government tried to motivate students by providing them uniforms, books and mid-day meals in the government schools. It even distributed bicycles among the girls. And thanks to his efforts, students are more sincere now.”
“I am a university teacher and the government fulfilled all its promises. They promised to increase the retirement age and it has been done. We also got increment according to the UGC. Commuting was a nightmare, but now driving from Muzaffarpur to Samastipur is a cakewalk for me,” she added.
Shalini Vial, a doctor by profession, said that the government is leaving no stones unturned in providing medical facilities in the interiors.
“Additional Primary Health Centres (APHCs) are operational everywhere and the government has made a rule that a team of at least four to five doctors and nurses should be present at these centres,” she said and feels that this is one of the reasons that earned Nitish women’s support.