Kolkata: With more and more women coming out of their homes for voting, a gender gap between male and female voter turnout has hit the lowest in West Bengal’s history. A ground level survey by the FPJ revealed there have been differences of opinions on voting preferences among men and women. With Mamata Banerjee at the helm of affairs, women has special place for her in their hearts. Many believe it’s during her tenure real women empowerment has happened in the state.

Rita Basak, a homemaker-entrepreneur in South Kolkata, stated her husband, in-laws and other family members have the Left leaning, but she liked Banerjee, who had singlehandedly dethroned the 34-year-old Left regime. “With didi as the CM, the women have started to come out of their shell to create an identity of their own,” she said.

19 years old Priyanka Banik, who will vote for the first-time on Sunday (May 18), is a beneficiary of Kanyashree scheme, which offers an yearly stipend of Rs1,000 to girl students of standard 9 to 12 and a one-time grant of Rs25,000 after school. “It used to be an-hour-long walk. Now, we reach school in half an hour,” she said. Banik received a bicycle from the government as a financial aid.

While the women are voting on issues like economic development and empowerment, the men are voting on the basis of nationalism and nation-building. With an increased hype of Modi’s sermons of nationalism, the nerves of the men have swelled with the increased blood-flow of patriotism. Modi is a people’s man. If there is one leader who can transform India into a global power, it’s him,” said Anirban Chatterjee, an advertising professional.

Among the Muslims, the voters showed a different perception. Their reasons might have remained the same, their choice of leaders are reversed. While the men are opposed to the idea of voting for the BJP, with triple-talaq ban and the BJP-led central government’s bid to facilitate women’s Haj pilgrimage without a male guardian/companion, a significant number of women showed their reliance on the PM’s party.

“BJP has taken the responsibility of empowering women. Surprisingly, it wasn’t limited to a religion,” said Shabina Kh­an, a guest lecturer and Phd student. In the 2014 election, the women voter turnout had witnessed a significant rise. With only one phase left, it can be said the women voter turnout will break all records this time around.

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