It’s women power to the fore this time in the Gudiyatham reserved constituency in Vellore district. Five out of the eight nominations filed for contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections are by women. Residents feel that if any one of the women comes to power, the economic condition of women in the constituency is likely to improve.
There are a total of 2,87,684 voters in Gudiyatham constituency and women comprise just over half: 1,48,302. While V. Amulu is contesting on behalf of the DMK, G. Paritha represents the AIADMK. R. Kalaiyenthiri from Naam Tamilar Katchi, R. Vennila of Republican Party of India (Athawle) and C. Jayanthi Padmanaban of the AMMK are the other contestants. The remaining three are men from the All Pensioner's Party, India Jananayaka Katchi and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Residents claim that this is the first time the constituency is seeing so many women candidates contesting. G. Varalakshmi, of the Gudiyatham Municipality Federation of Self Help Groups - 1, said that she is excited that the majority of the candidates in the fray are women. “It would be very convenient for us to approach a woman MLA and convey our problems without any hesitation. Women workers in the constituency will benefit a lot as the problems of women can be dealt with easily. The candidates will surely do well by the men too,” she said.
R.K. Mahalingam, secretary, Matchsticks Manufacturer Association, Vellore district, said that the winner will surely have to work to improve the livelihood of women in the constituency. “The handloom industry comprises a large number of women, especially many who work with yarn at home. The match industry also used to employ many women, but due to automation, many have lost their jobs. Women from these segments would have pinned their hopes on any one of the women candidates,” he said.
Meanwhile, apart from women-related issues, the candidates are promising overall improvement of the constituency. A few of the common promises are -- amelioration in education, solving water woes and setting up a weavers’ park in the constituency.
Speaking to The Hindu , Ms. Amulu said that she has been in politics for 15 years and has been a Panchayat Union Member earlier. “People here want good water supply, a weavers’ park and good colleges. Each panchayat has different demands,” she said, highlighting many other demands too.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kalaiyenthiri said that she made her entry into politics four years ago and has been her party’s women’s wing secretary, Gudiyatham. “People are purchasing drinking water here. Besides, the quality of education needs to be improved. More government colleges and schools need to be started. We will ensure that youngsters get employment within the constituency itself,” she explained adding that steps will be taken to improve the livelihood of farmers. “We don’t give cash for votes. People recognise us,” she added.
Ms. Paritha said that she entered politics in 2008 and has also been a booth agent. “I will work to improve the livelihood of women and create more opportunities for them in farming and other industries. Besides, there are a lot of sportsmen and women in the constituency. I will create facilities to hone their skills. All the demands of Muslim communities and other minorities will be fulfilled too,” she added.