TCPD Columns

Exploring the Representation of Women in Haryana State Politics

Ojas Arora

29 November 2021 | 3 min read

The state of Haryana has often made headlines for its skewed sex ratio and low Gender Development Index (GDI) and despite significant improvement in this regard, women representation in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha has witnessed a wavering response. In this article, we attempt to understand the different nuances and factors influencing women representation in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha beginning the year 2000 by drawing upon data from TCPD’s state-wise incumbency dataset that can be accessed at Lok Dhaba, the centre’s political data collation and visualisation tool.


Women representation in Haryana has always been a cause of concern given the state’s history of bias and crimes against women, and poor performance in gender-related metrics. The state was placed 4th in crimes against women in 2017[1] and had a below national average female workforce in 2015-16.[2] With a deep-rooted history of honour killings, female foeticide and early marriages,  inquiry into the question of women representation in the state’s politics becomes important.[3] It is true that Haryana has risen up the ladder and upped its ante in executing welfare measures pertaining to women. In fact, until the commencement of the 13th assembly term, it topped in terms of women representation in the Vidhan Sabha and held the top spot of sending the largest number of women MLAs to the state legislative assembly alongside West Bengal and Chhattisgarh (14 per cent of the total assembly seats).[4] While these statistics show an improved status of women representation in the Vidhan Sabha in recent times, however, from the 1st assembly elections in 1967 to the 13th assembly elections in 2019, women MLAs only make 7.62% of all the MLAs elected.[5] These underwhelming figures represent a very slow progression in the representation of women in Haryana. 

Status of Women Representation

The 90 seats Haryana Vidhan Sabha has witnessed a wavering number of elected women MLAs since 2000 (Figure 1).[6] The 9th, 10th and 11th assembly had only 4, 11 and 9 women MLAs, respectively. Whereas the current 13th assembly has only 9 women MLAs, which is 4 less than the 12th assembly’s 13 women MLAs. It can be noticed that despite an increase in the number of women candidates in state elections, the total percentage of total contesting women candidates have always remained under 9% of the total contesting candidates, since 2000.[7] The sluggish growth is indicative of an organisational bias against women candidates in political parties.[8] Furthermore, the number of total women candidates saw a dip in the 2019 elections, wherein the total number of women candidates came down to 104 from 116 in the 2014 assembly elections.

Figure 1: Number of Female v/s Male MLAs in Haryana Vidhan Sabha (2000-2019)

Source: TCPD- Lok Dhaba

Alternatively, many regional, as well as national political parties, have repeatedly vowed to ensure greater women representation in Vidhan Sabha. However, the same has not been carried out effectively. For example, in Figure 2, we can see that in the 2019 assembly elections, all the main parties- INC, BJP, INLD and JJP decreased the number of tickets allotted to women candidates compared to the 2014 assembly elections.[9] From Figure 2, it can also be that the nominations of women candidates by main parties have wavered from 2000 to 2019.  

Figure 2: Number of Women Nominated by Main Parties in Haryana Vidhan Sabha Election (2000-2019)

Source: TCPD- Lok Dhaba

Furthermore, a close study of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections from 2000 to 2019 shows that there exists a wide gap between the number of women contested elections versus those who won (Figure 3) [10] [11]. In this regard, only 2005 assembly elections was an exception, wherein this gap was relatively less. Correspondingly, this also yields a poor strike rate of women in assembly elections, which is referred to as the rate of total women elected by total women contested in elections. 

Figure 3: Number of Women Contested v/s Number of Women Elected in Haryana Vidhan Sabha Elections (2000-2019) 

Source: TCPD- Lok Dhaba

Notwithstanding the abysmal allotment of tickets to women by political parties, it could be observed that it is also difficult for women to secure a victory when contesting independently or without strong political backing. The same could be understood from the fact that there has been only one woman independent candidate, Shakuntla Bhagwaria, since 2000 until now to have won elections independently, in 2005.[12] It is noteworthy that she also had strong political affiliations and successfully contested on an INC ticket, in 1991, and later also contested on INLD’s ticket, in 2009.[13]  Therefore, to consider this as an anomaly would be indefinite. Furthermore, no woman candidate has won when allotted a ticket by a registered (unrecognised) party, since 2000.[14] A registered (unrecognised) party refers to a party that has not contested any elections since it has got registered or a party that has not been able to gain enough votes at a state or national level.[15] In Figure 4 [16] we can see that from 2005 to 2019, the percentage of elected independent males vis-a-vis the percentage of elected independent females has been higher.[17] The gap between the percentage of elected independent males and females since 2000 could probably indicate a bias against women candidates contesting independently, or from registered (unrecognised) parties or those with no trailing political associations.  

Figure 4: Percentage of Elected Independent Males vs. Percentage of Elected Independent Females

Source: TCPD- Lok Dhaba


The rising number of women candidates in Vidhan Sabha elections over the years and their ability to outvote men comfortably from 2000 upto 2019 in state elections, comes as a plus for women in politics in Haryana. However, amongst the elected women MLAs in the said period, many hailed from affluent political families, leaving circumstances relatively unchanged. Even though such practices of political dynasticism provide opportunities to women to contest, represent and forward the interests of their constituents, it leads to concentration of power with the already resourceful political families. Although Haryana is progressing in terms of the Gender Inequality Index, Human Development Index and Gender Development Index,[18] it still remains for women to overcome the barriers of organisational biases, structural prejudices and political dynasticism. These factors have collectively led to a political redundancy around the cause of women representation in Haryana state politics. It is true that the payoffs associated with increased women representation is high and beneficial for welfare of the state, but the lackadaisical and wavering commitment to the cause makes women representation in Haryana Vidhan Sabha considerably difficult. 


[1] “Female Employment Rate”. 2021. Pib.Gov.In.

[2]Paliath, Shreehari. 2021. “Haryana Elects Fewest Women MLAs In 10 Years”. Indiaspend.Com.

[3] ibid. 

[4]Verniers, Gilles. “What Tripped up the BJP in Haryana? 33 Charts That Decode the Verdict That Stunned Ruling Party.”, October 30, 2019.

[5] “50% Decline In Representation Of Women In Haryana Elections This Time”. 2021. Hindustan Times.

[6] “Lok Dhaba| Political Career Tracker,” n.d.

[7] ibid. 

[8] Paliath, Shreehari. 2021. “Haryana Elects Fewest Women Mlas In 10 Years”. Indiaspend.Com.

[9] “Lok Dhaba| Political Career Tracker,” n.d.

[10] ibid. 

[11] “Haryana.” Election Commission of India.

[12] “Lok Dhaba | Political Career Tracker| TCPD .” Lok Dhaba | TCPD, n.d.

[13] “Haryana.” Election Commission of India.

[14] “Registered Unrecognised Political Parties Increased Two-Fold from 2010 to 2019: ADR.” The Economic Times.  

[15] “Haryana.” Election Commission of India.

[16] “Lok Dhaba| Political Career Tracker,” n.d.

[17] “Haryana.” Election Commission of India.

[18] “Report On Gendering Human Development”. 2021. Mospi.Nic.In.