The political parties have collectively covered just seven women candidates out of a total of 52 in 14 Assembly constituencies over the district in the approaching polls. The inadequate representation of 13.46% occurs at a period when Ex-Mahila Congress president Lathika Subhash has shaved her head in objection against the patriarchal system in political parties and the party rejecting her a seat.
The Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF) have no women nominees 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 raised by Ms. Subhash,” said Lali Jophin, district Congress committee general secretary and ex-Ernakulam district president of Mahila Congress.
The Communist Party of India [CPI(M)] did not manage much better with Shelna Nishad covered from the Aluva Assembly constituency being the only woman candidate out of eight candidates while the Communist Party of India (CPI) fielded even worse with both its candidates from the district being men. Among the Left Democratic Front (LDF) alliance partners, the Kerala Congress only fielded a woman candidate, Sindhumol Jacob from Piravom, while the Janata Dal (Secular) provided its single ticket to Jose Thettayil. Even the two LDF-supported 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 organization leader in a situation of anonymity. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which added three women among its 11 candidates from the district, proved relatively 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 provided all three tickets to men.
2020 has two women with its eight candidates, a delegation of 25%, with Chithra Sukumaran and Shiny Antony disputing from Perumbavoor and Kochi Assembly constituencies each. Party sources stated the initial plan was to guarantee women’s participation of 50%, but the party could not find suitable candidates for Thrikkakara and Ernakulam constituencies in a small period. But the party was determined to guarantee 50% reservation in the selection of candidates in all forthcoming elections.
V4 People, the State-wide variant of the apolitical gear V4 Kochi set just before the last local body polls, could not hold a single woman among its three candidates in the district. “We had plans to field a woman candidate from Thripunithura but that did not materialize. However, going forward, we will make women’s participation an integral policy of our electoral contests,” said Nipun Cherian, campaign controller of the party.