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Maharashtra to have 95 women MLAs in 288-member Assembly, once Women’s Reservation Bill comes into force | Mumbai News

Once the Women’s Reservation Bill comes into force, Maharashtra will have 95 women legislators in the 288-member state legislative Assembly, which at present adds up to only 24.

After the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP with 105 MLAs has brought the maximum number of women legislators to 12 in the House. The demise of Mukta Tilak (Kasbapeth) in 2022, however, brought down the strength of BJP women legislators to 11.

The Congress has five women legislators in the state Assembly — the second-highest — out of its total 44 MLAs.

NCP has three women members out of its total 54 MLAs, Shiv Sena’s Shinde faction has two women legislators out of its total 40 MLAs, and Shiv Sena (UBT) faction led by Uddhav Thackeray has one woman legislator out of its total 16 MLAs. Apart from mainstream parties, there are two women Independents.

All the political parties have unanimously welcomed the Centre’s bid to implement 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, setting aside their ideological differences.

“It is a big step forward… to give greater representation to women in the Parliament and state assemblies. It is a move towards women empowerment. The Women’s Reservation Bill has been pending for the last 27 years. It is being realised under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, adding that this indicates BJP’s commitment to women empowerment.

Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Vijay Waddetiwar, from Congress, also welcomed the decision and said, “The Congress was always in the favour of higher representation to women. In the past, Congress displayed that intention by giving the country its first woman prime minister, governor, and chief minister.”

The role of women in electoral politics is significant in the state, which has a total population of above 12 crore, with enrolled voters at 8.97 crore — 4.38 crore women, 47 per cent of the vote bank.

Earlier, the women voter turnout was less between the 1960s and 1980s. From the 1980s to 2019, the women vote bank became crucial for the elections. The role of deploying women workers to reach out to households as part of campaign is now a mainstay of election exercise.

Apart from political parties, the Election Commission of India has also launched a voting awareness drive that resulted in a large number of women coming to polling booths in the last two decades.

Yet, when it comes to the number of women in Cabinet, the representation is bleak. Aditi Tatkare is the lone woman minister in the Eknath Shinde government that has a total of 27 ministers. The total permissible strength of the state cabinet is 43 ministers, including CM Eknath Shinde, Fadnavis, Dy CM Ajit Pawar.

In July 2023, when the NCP faction under Ajit Pawar joined the state government led by BJP and Shiv Sena (Shinde faction), 36 out of 54 NCP MLAs switched to the rebel group.

Aditi Tatkare, NCP MLA from Shrivardhan, got a Cabinet berth subsequently. Both BJP and Shinde Sena have promised to bring in women ministers in the next Cabinet expansion.
Maharashtra, known for its leadership and progressive characters, has never had a woman chief minister ever since its formation in 1960.

The previous state governments have ensured at least one, two or three women ministers in the Cabinet, depending on the coalition, although their representation has always been low.

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The Maha Vikas Aghadi government (2019 to 2022) comprising Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena led by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had three women ministers — Varsha Gaikwad and Yashomati Thakur from Congress, and Aditi Tatkare from NCP.

In 1994, Sharad Pawar, the then chief minister, came out with its first comprehensive women empowerment policy. The state also took the lead to support 50 per cent reservation to women in local bodies.

All the political parties in the state have incorporated welfare schemes for women, and their empowerment and reservations find a mention in election manifestos of all the parties.

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