Kerala Assembly Elections | Three women and their acts of defiance

The candidacy of Lathika, Walayar mother and Rema is more than symbolic

March 18, 2021 02:12 am | Updated December 02, 2021 10:54 pm IST - Kozhikode

Lathika Subash (left), the “Walayar mother” (centre) and K.K. Rema. File

Lathika Subash (left), the “Walayar mother” (centre) and K.K. Rema. File

Dissenting voices of a few women who have decided to play a part in the State Assembly election may sound muted in comparison to the eruption of vocal protests in public against the candidature of official nominees of major political parties in some constituencies in the past week. Their understated individual expression of dissent or sentiments through unconventional protests such as tonsuring though is subtle but profound defiance of the establishment, which is either the leadership of the parties concerned or the ruling authorities.

The outbreak of protests by local leaders and cadres of major political parties against the announcement of their respective candidates in Ponnani, Kuttiyadi, Elathur and Irikkur dominated the election debates in the past week as did Congress leader Lathika Subash’s act of tonsuring her head as a symbolic protest against the denial of the Ettumanur seat to her and her resignation as State president of the Mahila Congress.



Ms. Subash’s rebellion, as manifested in her decision to contest as an Independent candidate in Ettumanur, may be upstaged by more pressing concerns and issues that will determine the nature of campaign passion in the coming days. But the symbolism of her individual dissent continues to have potency that will hold on even beyond the forthcoming election. For, it will be seen as a woman leader’s personal protest against the establishment of her own party.


No less emblematic is the ‘Walayar mother’ who had her head shaved off last month and started her tour of 14 districts across the State highlighting what she said was denial of justice by the State government and demanding action against the police officer who investigated the deaths of her two minor Dalit daughters who had been sexually assaulted and later found dead.

She has announced that she will contest as an Independent candidate against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadam. Her candidacy in the CPI(M)’s bastion will capture attention more for its symbolism as an act of questioning the authority by a defenceless individual than for any electoral impact it may or may not make.

Also read | CM broke promise: Walayar girls’ mother


K.K. Rema, widow of slain Revolutionary Marxist Party of India leader T.P. Chandrashekharan, who is contesting in Vadakara , is another symbol of defiance. Her candidacy was announced after days of hesitation that will be seen as a reflection of her sense of vulnerability as an individual, a mother.

She finally came out of the shadows following the persuasion from the UDF. Her candidacy will be portrayed more as an act of vengeance against CPI(M) workers who murdered her husband, a CPI(M) dissident.

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