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CPM, Congress field few women
S RAMA KRISHNA  Thiruvananthapuram | 3rd Apr 2011

he CPI(M) and the Congress have cold-shouldered women while allocating tickets in the Kerala Assembly elections. The CPI(M), which is contesting 91 out of the 140 seats in the Assembly has allotted 10 seats to women. The Congress, which is contesting 81 seats, has fielded only seven women.

The women who have been fielded by the CPI(M) are K.K. Shailaja (Peravur), K.K. Lathika (Kuttiyadi), Khaleeja Sattar (Mankada), K.S. Saleekha (Shornur), M.C Josphine (Kochi), Suja Susan George (Puthupally), Sheela Ramani (Kattakkad), K.R. Vijaya, C.S. Sujatha (Chengannur) and Ayesha Potti (Kottakara).

The Congress has fielded Indira (Thalassery), P.K. Jaya Lakshmi (Mananthawadi), Shanta Jayaram (Shornur), Lathika Subhash (Malampuzha), Shahia Kamal (Chandymangalam), Thakamani Diwakaran (Atingel) and Bindu Krishnan (Chettannur).

Though two dozen other smaller parties have fielded women candidates, their percentage would not add up to much. The BJP, which is going it alone and is hoping to open its account this time, has fielded 10 women among 140 candidates. Former CPI(M) leader and now the head of the Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithi, K.R. Gouri Amma is the only woman heading a party in Kerala.

Interestingly, Chief Minister V.S. Achutanandan, who is seeking re-election from Malampuzha, is facing problems from two women and a six-year-old girl. If one of the two, Lathika Subhash, is contesting against him on a Congress ticket, another woman, Sindhu Joy, a former CPM activist, is campaigning against him.

"Achutanandan talks tall, but when it comes to action his record is dismal. I want to teach the Left Front a lesson by campaigning against him in Malampuzha this time," said Joy, who contested against Oommen Chandy from Puthupally Assembly constituency in Kottayam district in 2006. The firebrand former SFI leader is drawing good crowds in Malampuzha.

ittle Sneha, the daughter of a sexual abuse victim, Shari, is doing her bit by her presence at Congress rallies and has lent her support to Lathika Subhash by donating Rs 101 for her campaign. "Though this is a small amount, I value it most," Subhash told The Sunday Guardian.

In fact, Achutanandan championed the cause of Shari in the 2006 Assembly elections and vowed to arrest those who had sexually assaulted her. "But nothing has been done to the family of Shari, who passed away after giving birth to Sneha. Shari's parents along with Sneha visited Achutanandan several times in the last five years," Subhash said.

The local CPM leaders are avoiding the issue, but are claiming that the positive sex ratio in Kerala was possible because of good governance by Achutanandan in the last five years.

"Kerala women are strong, hard working and educated, but mainstream political parties are not ready to give them their due," Vasumathi Nair, a Malayalam faculty in Thiruvananthapuram University told this paper.

"Except for sex scandals, women do not figure on the agenda of either the LDF or the UDF," Prof Nair lamented.

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