Vijayawada

Women, the soft power of the political parties

They are considered a symbol of prosperity and auspiciousness

Election is that season of the year when the daily wage earners rake in the moolah. This is fetching much more for the womenfolk, who are chosen to lead the campaign processions of all leading political parties.

Womenfolk, who find it hard to make both ends meet, are now earning handsomely during the election season. Donning saris, caps and shawls representing the party’s colour and logo, they criss-cross the streets and lanes of a constituency along with the party candidates, braving the scorching sun.

Though men too are roped in for canvassing, the mileage a candidate gets when women are around is better. It revolves around sentiment as women are considered a symbol of prosperity and auspiciousness. "When a woman asks a person to vote for a particular candidate, she does not just convey the message, but also carries the feel that she really means it," a person who supplies people for canvassing told The Hindu, requesting anonymity.

"When youth are roped in, they make a lot of noise and bully the passers-by, creating fear among voters. It is perhaps why all parties rope in more women than men," reasons T. Chandraiah, a TDP activist of Mangalam area here.

There is widespread criticism that the DWCRA system is being misused by the ruling party and that the Self-Help Groups (SHG) members are forced to participate in the door-to-door canvassing, of course, for a payment of ₹200 a day. Opposition parties have also made it an issue, but the members have a different tale to narrate.

"This is not true. We DWCRA members assemble at our office for a meeting at a fixed hour. When political parties extend invitation, only those who are willing and in dire need of money go with them. There is no pressure," says T. Girija, an SHG member.

Multi-tasking era

Breaking from the routine of carrying flags, women are made to don different roles. The ‘multi-tasking’ era mandates them to shower flowers from the second floor when a caravan passes through a street, offer ‘harathi’ and apply ‘kumkum’ to a candidate visiting a locality, break ‘drishti’ pumpkin to ward off the evil eye and at times, discreetly disburse freebies.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 6:08:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/women-the-soft-power-of-the-political-parties/article26750393.ece

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