- Total Women Candidates: BJP: 19, Congress: 13
- For 87 seats on Dec 13: BJP: 11 women; Congress: 5
- For 95 seats on Dec 17: BJP: 8 women; Congress: 8
The strong alpha male figure that he is in Gujarat, Narendra Modi evokes love and hate in equal measure among women. So, if there’s a sizeable number that dotes on him, dons the BJP’s colours, cheers loudly for their CM and campaigns for him, he also has some of the most consistent and doughty fighters ranged against him, be it Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi or Mallika Sarabhai. These women have waged a long anti-Modi crusade, often figuring in bruising TV studio battles on the man and his politics. Now the battle is turning more directly political, with two women—Shweta and Jagruti—taking him on electorally. Neither social activists nor politicians, these are two Brahmin housewives, who have decided to challenge Modi in the electoral arena.
IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt’s wife Shweta has chosen Modi’s own assembly seat, Maninagar, and a Congress ticket to mount her fight. “I’m not a politician,” she tells Outlook. “But I’m fighting a man who has least respect for women in his heart. Not only minorities, his own party workers’ families and women of the state, he has harassed three women of my family: me, my daughter and my 85-year-old mother. He damaged the dignity of the police uniform by sending junior officers to harass us.”
Joining Shweta on the electoral warpath is Haren Pandya’s widow, Jagruti, contesting from her husband’s seat, Ellisbridge, under the aegis of Keshubhai Patel’s new party, the Gujarat Parivartan Party. Pandya was shot...