In Ernakulam, women candidates a negligible presence

Mainstream parties have collectively fielded only seven women

The mainstream political parties have collectively fielded just seven women candidates out of a total of 52 in 14 Assembly constituencies across the district in the forthcoming election.

The meagre representation of 13.46% comes at a time when former Mahila Congress president Lathika Subhash has tonsured her head in protest against the alleged patriarchal order in political parties and the party denying her a seat.

The Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF) has zero women candidates in Ernakulam. “We did expect the party to field at least one woman candidate from Ernakulam. Though we are disappointed, as committed and disciplined party workers we accept that decision and not for a minute can we accept the mode of protest adopted by Ms. Subhash,” said Lali Jophin, district Congress committee general secretary and former Ernakulam district president of Mahila Congress.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] did not fare much better with Shelna Nishad fielded from the Aluva Assembly constituency being the sole woman candidate out of eight candidates while the Communist Party of India (CPI) fared even worse with both its candidates from the district being men. Among the Left Democratic Front (LDF) alliance partners, the Kerala Congress (Mani) alone fielded a woman candidate, Sindhumol Jacob from Piravom, while the Janata Dal (Secular) gave its sole ticket to Jose Thettayil. Even the two LDF-backed Independents are men.

“Things are improving as manifested in the fielding of 14 women candidates by the party across the State this time. Women empowerment does not mean financial empowerment alone and it does call for political empowerment as well,” said a senior women’s organisation leader on condition of anonymity.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which included three women among its 11 candidates from the district, fared comparatively better with women participation of 27.27%. The party fielded T.P. Sindhu Mol from Perumbavoor, Padmaja S. Menon from Ernakulam, and Renu Suresh from Kunnathunad Assembly constituencies. However, the National Democratic Alliance partner Bharath Dharma Jana Sena gave all three tickets to men.

Twenty20 has two women among its eight candidates, a representation of 25%, with Chithra Sukumaran and Shiny Antony contesting from Perumbavoor and Kochi Assembly constituencies respectively. Party sources said the initial plan was to ensure women’s participation of 50%, but the party could not find fitting candidates for Thrikkakara and Ernakulam constituencies in a short period. But the party was determined to ensure 50% reservation in the selection of candidates in all future elections, added the sources.

V4 People, the State-wide version of the apolitical outfit V4 Kochi formed just ahead of the last local body polls, however, could not include a single woman among its three candidates in the district. “We had plans to field a woman candidate from Thripunithura but that did not materialise. However, going forward, we will make women’s participation an integral policy of our electoral contests,” said Nipun Cherian, campaign controller of the party.

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