GUWAHATI, April 4 - Voters of the State have never elected more than two woman candidates to the Lok Sabha in any single parliamentary election.
And even though most political parties swear by the agenda of amending the Constitution to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in State Legislative Assemblies and the Lower House of Parliament, it is noteworthy that very few woman candidates have contested the Lok Sabha polls from Assam over the decades.
There were 10 parliamentary constituencies in Assam during the first Lok Sabha polls held in 1951-52, including eight �single-member� constituencies and two �double-member� constituencies. As such, the total number of seats from Assam was 12.
Only two woman candidates contested the first Lok Sabha polls from Assam and one of them, Bonily Khongmen of the Indian National Congress (INC), got elected from the Autonomous District constituency.
In the elections to the second Lok Sabha held in 1957, the number of woman contestants in the State remained at two. However, both the candidates won.
The winners were Mofida Ahmed of INC from Jorhat constituency and Rani Manjula Devi of INC from Goalpara constituency. Goalpara was a �double-member� constituency and Devi was one of the two winners from there.
The �double-member� constituencies were done away with during the third Lok Sabha polls held in 1962.
In the 1962 LS polls, three woman candidates contested in Assam and two of them emerged victorious. They were Jyotsna Chanda of INC from Cachar constituency and Renuka Devi Barkataki of INC from Barpeta.
By the time of the fourth Lok Sabha elections, the number of constituencies in Assam increased to 14.
In the 1967 General Elections to the fourth Lok Sabha, the number of woman contestants in Assam again fell to two, and one of them � Jyotsna Chanda of INC from Cachar � was elected.
Altogether three women contested the 1971 General Elections from constituencies of Assam and one emerged victorious. Jyotsna Chanda of INC from Cachar was once again the lone woman MP in the Lok Sabha from the State.
In the 1977 Lok Sabha elections, a total of three woman candidates were among those in the fray and two emerged victorious. The winners were Rashida Haque Choudhury of INC from Silchar and Renuka Devi Barkataki of the Janata Party (contesting on the symbol of the Bharatiya Lok Dal) from Guwahati constituency.
The seventh Lok Sabha polls in 1980 were not held in the constituencies of the Brahmaputra Valley. However, elections took place for the two seats in the Barak Valley.
Only two woman contestants were in the fray from those constituencies and both lost. For the first time, no woman MP was elected to the Lok Sabha from Assam during the 1980 General Elections and the trend continued till 1998.
While the rest of the country voted in 1984 to elect the eighth Lok Sabha, polls to the parliamentary constituencies of Assam and Punjab were held only in 1985.
That year, four woman candidates contested from the seats in Assam. None was elected. Elections to the Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam were not held in 1989.
In the General Elections to the tenth Lok Sabha in 1991, eight woman contestants were in the fray from the constituencies of Assam and all were defeated.
There were nine woman candidates in Assam in the 1996 Lok Sabha polls, but none was elected.
In the 1998 Lok Sabha polls, voters of Assam again elected a woman MP after a gap of many years. A total of three women contested those polls and Ranee Narah of INC got elected from Lakhimpur constituency. The State had nine woman candidates in the 1999 polls for the 13th Lok Sabha and two of them won. While Ranee Narah of INC was re-elected from Lakhimpur, Bijoya Chakravarty of BJP won from the Guwahati seat.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, while six woman candidates were in the fray in Assam, all were defeated.
In the General Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha held in 2009, the total number of woman contestants stood at 11 and two got elected. The winners were once again Ranee Narah of INC from Lakhimpur constituency and Bijoya Chakravarty of BJP from Guwahati. The 16th General Elections held in 2014 witnessed the highest number of woman candidates ever in the fray from Assam.
A total of 16 women contested the polls and two of them � Bijoya Chakravarty of BJP from Guwahati and Sushmita Dev of INC from Silchar � emerged winners.