THRISSUR: On International Women’s Day, the question of representation of women in the list of candidates for Lok Sabha polls has once again popped up. The day dedicated to gender equality also reminds one of the Women’s Reservation Bill, that mandates 33 per cent representation for women in Parliament.
While the political fronts are busy with local, state and national committee meetings preparing the list of probable candidates, the women’s wings of the parties this time are hopeful for a better representation. As always, the women’s wings have sought better seat allocation for women leaders, but the state which claims to be in the forefront of renaissance and has a higher literacy rate is always a disaster when it comes to representation of women in Parliament.
Of course, the LDF has always fielded two or three women candidates for the parliamentary elections and had sent a total of 5 women leaders so far. Meanwhile, the Congress over the years had the credit of just one woman MP, Savitri Lakshmanan. “If the Congress couldn’t send women MPs any more from Kerala, it is a shame for the party. It is high time, the women representation of MPs from the state was raised,” Savitri told Express. She added being a state where the female population remains higher than the males, the party should field more women candidates.
“It is not that able women leaders are less. But, parliamentary seats have become the monopoly of sitting MPs,” said Savitri, who won from Mukundapuram Lok Sabha constituency in 1989 and 1991. She added she was hopeful this time with the special efforts taken by KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran and president Rahul Gandhi.
CPM MLA Prathiba Hari said only a legislative intervention could change the scenario. “The Women’s Reservation Bill is indispensable to address this issue. But the Modi Government that came into power assuring to introduce the bill failed to do so. The UPA Government too couldn’t pass it in the Parliament. Now, only a socialist government in the Centre can take this up,” she said.
V T Rema, president of BJP’s Mahila Morcha, said the NDA was always keen on ensuring representation of women and it can be seen in the allocation of key ministries to women. “In the upcoming Lok Sabha election also, we are hopeful the party will find able leaders and field them to represent the state,” she said. She also made it clear in the Lok Sabha elections, with just 20 seats, only winnability of the candidates could only be prioritised.
Kerala had seen two major women rallies last year - the Women’s Wall and the massive women’s protest against Sabarimala women entry. Though women leaders were in the forefront in organising the protests, fair representation in Parliament is still at the mercy of patriarchal power centres and the winning chances.
CPM leader T N Seema said: “Let us wait for the candidate list.”