Major parties have nominated only 11 so far

Most political parties that did not lose an opportunity to make a big noise in favour of 33 per cent reservation for women at all levels seem to have been afflicted with ‘selective amnesia’ while choosing candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. The short shrift given to women is quite visible in Tamil Nadu where national parties, including the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties, as well as the regional parties — the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam — have cared little to give women their due.

Major political parties in the State have together nominated only 11 candidates so far. The AIADMK, which is in the fray in all 39 constituencies, has fielded just four women, while the DMK has only two among its 35 candidates. The CPI(M) has fielded two and the CPI one. These two parties are in fray in nine constituencies each. The Congress has announced the list of 37 candidates so far, of them Sarubala Tondaiman (Tiruchi) and S. Jothimani (Karur) are the only women.

Constituents in the BJP-led front have not fielded even a single woman as yet, though filing of nominations for all 39 Lok Sabha seats and the lone seat in Puducherry began on Saturday. The DMDK, which is contesting from 14 seats, and the MDMK from seven have not fielded a single woman candidate. The BJP and the PMK, which have released their first list of candidates, too have not named any woman candidate. The BJP is yet to announce candidates for two constituencies and the PMK for one seat.

Representatives of service organisations and women movements find fault with all the political parties for this trend, which, they say, only proves that a yawning gap still exists between what these parties preach and practice. These parties which were strong advocates of the women’s Bill, have not acted when they should have done, and thus have failed miserably to live up to the expectations of women, they complain.

For T. Jayanthi Rani, a senior advocate, the fact that no party takes a firm decision to field certain number of women only showed that men at the top only paid lip service. Some of the political parties have women at the helm of affairs, but they too are not courageous enough to allot adequate political space to women, she says. “Women have excelled in different fields and if given a chance they will prove their worth in the legislative bodies too,” says Ms. Jayanthi Rani.

Y. Pushpam, former Tiruchi district president of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), conceded that the poor representation for women in the candidates list was not to her liking. It is up to women to build pressure groups within each party in a bid to empower themselves politically.