Kerala Assembly Elections | Samastha’s dissenting voice mellows down

Noorbina Rasheed  

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) made a historic move by fielding its women’s wing leader Noorbina Rasheed in Kozhikode South. She will be the second Muslim woman to contest an Assembly election on IUML banner in Kerala.

If elected, she will be the first IUML woman legislator in the State.

The party did not consider a woman for the Assembly for the past 25 years since Vanitha League leader Qamarunnisa Anwar was given a chance in Kozhikode II in 1996. Ms. Anwar was the first woman candidate in the IUML’s electoral history, though she conceded defeat to CPI(M) veteran Elamaram Kareem by 8,766 votes.

Although the demand for women representation in party leadership and in the Assembly has been heard for decades, the IUML continued to be guided by androcentric principles. The progressive ideas and orientation were often countervailed by male dominance and pressures from religious groups, especially from the Samastha Kerala Janiyyathul Ulama, the top-rung leadership of the vast majority Sunni Muslims in Malabar.

Whenever there were talks about sending a Muslim woman or two to the Assembly, there came voices of dissent and threat from the Samastha, especially its second-rung leadership. When the top leadership maintained a diplomatic silence over the matter, junior leaders such as Abdussamad Pookkottur and Rahmatullah Qasimi Moothedam virulently attacked Muslim women contesting Assembly elections.

Although Mr. Qasimi was not a leader, he was among the top influential sermonisers of the Samastha.

When 50% reservation was implemented in local bodies, the IUML had no choice but to bring their women out on the hustings. The IUML leadership often pretended not to hear the dissenting voices of Sunni scholars coming from the Samastha over women’s entry into public sphere.

“We have little choice,” IUML State president Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal once remarked during a casual chat. Mr. Thangal is interestingly the vice president of the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, the scholarly body of the orthodox Sunni section.

Although Abdussamad Pookkottur had raised objection this time too, the Samastha leadership brushed it aside describing it as “Mr. Pookkottur’s personal opinion.”

The Samastha top leadership having mellowed its attitude towards women representation in the Assembly, the IUML has now found a perfect socio-religious circumstance to field a woman to the Assembly. “Let this be the beginning of a much-needed social change. It is time that we cast aside our gender bias for a better and progressive tomorrow,” said K.P. Mariyumma, a senior leader of the Vanitha League.

“I’m so happy,” said Ms. Anwar.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 6:59:59 AM |

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