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Second innings for lone woman minister

Bhawani Negi | Shimla |

The lone woman minister in the newly inducted Himachal Cabinet, Sarveen Chaudhary, is a name to reckon with in party circles.

This is her second stint as  a minister having been one in the previous BJP government in Himachal (2007-2012). She was minister for Social Justice and Empowerment from January 9 2008 to December 2012. She has won five times on the BJP ticket, proving her mettle in the patriarchal hill state.

Elections to the state Legislative Assembly were first held in 1952, when Himachal Pradesh became a Part ‘Ç’ state of the Indian Union.  The recent Assembly elections saw the BJP getting a clear victory with 48.8 per cent vote share.

Chaudhary is among a handful of women in the BJP who has played a leading role in  electoral politics. An active RSS worker, she entered politics in 1992 and remained Mandal Pradhan of the Mahila Morcha.

Women voters outnumbered men not only in the state but also in all the seats of Kangra district, which has always played a vital role in the formation of government in HP.

The voting percentage of women was recorded at 78.63 per cent against 66.41 recorded by men in Kangra district.

This time 19 women contested elections and of the total 37,21,667  votes in HP, 19,10,535  were cast by women while 18,11,126 were cast by men. Despite that, however, only four women managed to make it to the state Assembly, including Chaudhary, Reeta Dhiman and Kamlesh Kumari from BJP and Asha Kumari from Congress.

With Shahpur and Indora constituency falling in Kangra district, the high polling percentage of women appears to have benefited both Chaudhary and Reeta Dhiman in their respective Assembly segments.

Chaudhary (51) contested her first elections in 1998 on BJP ticket at the age of 32 years. She, however, lost in 2003 to the then Congress candidate Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia, after which  there was no looking back, as she consecutively won the three Assembly elections held in 2007, 2012 and now in 2017.

Chaudhary said, “I work as a team along with the male counterparts in the state government, with the solitary aim to take the state to new heights.”