Bhubaneswar: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik Sunday said the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would field 33 per cent women among its candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, terming the move a “benchmark for women empowerment” in India.
Making the announcement at a rally in Kendrapara, the Biju Janata Dal president said the “historic step” would lead the way in empowering women. “If India is to lead the world, if India has to compete with countries like America and China and become an advanced nation, women empowerment is the only answer,” he said.
Mr Patnaik’s decision would mean that the ruling BJD will field women candidates for at least seven out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
At present, there are three women Lok Sabha MPs from Odisha. The BJD had won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. Mr Patnaik, however, did not make any such announcement for the assembly polls which is slated to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Odisha’s 147-member assembly has 12 women MLAs at present. In No-vember last year, a resolution was passed unanimously in the state ass-embly seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in legislative assemblies and Parliament.