Kerala

Parties still shy away from fielding women

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat addressing a public meet on women and development organised by the All India Democratic Women’s Association at Gandhi Park in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.  

Despite their tall claims about gender equality and women empowerment, political parties are facing an uphill task to field women candidates even as they are discussing seat-sharing among themselves and also beginning selection of nominees in key segments for the April 6 Assembly polls.

Already women affiliates of mainstream political parties along with their youth organisations have been clamouring for a respectable representation for them. Ahead of the three-tier local body polls, a section of women leaders in the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) kept upping the ante for a seat in the male-dominated electoral process of the party.

After the defeat of Qamarunnisa Anwar from Kozhikode-II Assembly segment in 1996, the IUML has never fielded a woman either for the Assembly or Lok Sabha polls till now.

Despite vehement demands within their parties, both the IUML and the Kerala Congress (M) of the Congress- led United Democratic Front did not give tickets to their women leaders in the 2016 Assembly polls. Last time the IUML and KC (M) contested 24 and 15 seats, respectively.

The Samastha Kerala Jamiat-ul-Ulema, the influential Sunni cleric forum which supports the IUML, is said to be against women entering the political arena. And so is its rival Sunni sect All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama led by Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musliyar. Seats are offered to women in the three-tier local body polls only because of the rule that 50 % of the seats have been reserved for them.

The scrutiny of the candidate-list in the previous Assembly polls reveals that the Congress, CPI(M), CPI and the BJP are not far behind when it comes to overlooking their women leaders while selecting nominees in the rough-and-tumble of political combat.

The Congress fielded nine women out of the 87 nominees; CPI (M) 12 out of the 78; CPI 4 out of the 27 and the BJP 10 out of the 88 candidates. Minor coalition partners of either fronts including the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front such as Nationalist Congress Party, Indian National League, Janata Dal (United) , now transformed as Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), saw their women leaders as unwinnable contenders.

Leaders of all parties, however, maintained that selection of candidates was solely based on the ‘winnability factor.’ And politics is dominated by men despite female voters playing a big role in Kerala polls. But they also secretly admit that the number of seats are limited even for men to contest.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 9:19:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/parties-still-shy-away-from-fielding-women/article33963840.ece

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