‘Women staying through the night conveys a message to society,’ says V. Sreeja, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] activist and Standing Committee chairman at the Olavanna panchayat
Women are conspicuous by their absence from the public spaces in the State after nightfall. Concerns about safety and the general perception that some of our major streets are intimidating once the sun sets has contributed in no small measure to this situation.
But at the indefinite day-night protest programmes organised by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) at Muthalakkulam in the city demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the solar scam, women mark their strong presence round-the-clock, much like last year’s protests by Kudumbasree in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.
They are part of the team going over every detail on the ground, and on stage delivering fiery speeches, and singing folk songs.
On a visit to the protest venue at 1 a.m. on Sunday, The Hindu found close to 20 women in a crowd of around 400.
“During daytime, women outnumber men and occupy most of the space inside the protest ‘pandhal’. But at night, the number of women is less but the fact that these many are staying through the night conveys a message to society,” says V. Sreeja, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] activist and Standing Committee chairman at the Olavanna panchayat, before regaling the audience with an old protest song.
She says that even in the coverage of the solar scam, there was a tendency to reduce the discussions to that of various politicians’ telephone calls and relationships with the accused women rather than focus on corruption.
Another party activist from Kunnamangalam, who requested anonymity, came on stage with a folk song.
In fact, the atmosphere at the protest venue at night is a contrast to that during day.
While the day is filled with speeches and discussions led by State and local-level leaders, the gear shifts past 10 p.m. with songs, short skits, and mimicry taking centre stage, and some of these do have allusions to the solar scam.
Veterans like T. Velayudhan, an area secretary of the party, say a protest like this has rarely been seen before.