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During the Mission Shakti convention held in Kendrapara on March 10th, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will be allocating 33% seat share for women representatives in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. This is the first time ever a political party has made an official announcement regarding this. Patnaik reportedly said, “Odisha will show India the way in empowering women.” Out of the 21 seats, seven will be allocated to women candidates this time.

“The women of Odisha will be torchbearers of women empowerment in India. If India expects to emulate countries like America and China and hopes to lead the world, women empowerment is the only answer,” he added, news agency ANI reported.

Last time in the 2014 elections, two women candidates were given tickets by BJD from Jajpur and Keonjhar constituencies and later when a sitting MP from Kandhamal constituency passed away, the seat was offered to a woman candidate. BJD, which has been in power since the year 2000, swept 20 out of 21 seats in the last poll.  The term of the current Odisha assembly will come to an end on June 1st this year.

Patnaik took a dig at other parties and asked them to stay true to their words of ‘women empowerment’ as well. Times Now News reported that last year, the Chief Minister had passed the proposal for implementing a 33 per cent quota for women in state assemblies in the Parliament, which was very well received by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the Odisha state assembly. Back in 2011, Odisha had increased the women’s quota in panchayats and urban local bodies to 50%.

The Chief Minister, however, didn’t clarify if this reservation will be applied for Assembly elections as well.

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