More women than men in Kerala; few enter parliament (Election Special)
Kerala has more women than men, but few women contest and even fewer reach parliament.
Kerala has the highest gender electoral ratio which stands at 1,079 women to 1,000 men, but over the years few women get a chance to enter the electoral battle. And very few win at the hustings.
Kerala sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and the contest here has always been between the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Past three general election statistics show that when it comes to candidate selection, women get a raw deal. In the 1999 polls, there were just two women candidates.
The CPI-M fielded A.K.Premajam from the Badagara constituency which she won and the lone Congress candidate M.T.Padma lost from the Palakkad constituency.
In the 2004 polls, the rival fronts fielded five women. Both the candidates fielded by the CPI-M won, all the three candidates put up by the Congress lost.
In the 'all women' battle at Badagara constituency, P.Sathidevi of the CPI-M defeated M.T.Padma of the Congress. Congress candidate at Chalakudy Padmaja Venugopal, daughter of late veteran Congress leader K. Karunakaran, and K.A. Thulasi fielded from Ottapalam lost.
At the Mavelikera constituency, CPI-M candidate C.S. Sujatha defeated present Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.
The scenario turned for the worse in the 2009 polls when none of the three women candidates won. P.Sathi Devi (Badagara), Sindhu Joy put up by the CPI-M at Ernakulam and the lone Congress candidate Shahida Kamal fielded from Kasargode lost.
Over the years Kerala has always had more number of women voters than men.
The latest figures released by the Chief Electoral Officer for the 2014 polls show that of the 23,792,270 voters, women account for 12,349,345 and the men number 11,442,925.
And in the 2014 polls, the list of women candidates is just four with the CPI-M and the Congress fielding two each.
At the citadel of the CPI-M in Kannur, former state minister and party central committee member P.K. Sreemathy is pitted against sitting Lok Sabha member and senior Congress leader K.Sudhakaran.
In the Muslim stronghold constituency at Malappuram, the CPI-M has fielded P.K. Sainaba, a senior CPI-M woman leader, and she is taking on the war horse of the Indian Union Muslim League and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, who has never tasted defeat since first entering the Lok Sabha in 1991.
From the Congress, K.A. Sheeba, a local leader in Palakkad, is pitted against sitting CPI-M member P.K.Biju in the Alathur constituency.
In the capital district from the Attingal constituency, top women Congress leader Bindhu Krishna will attempt to deny sitting member of CPI-M A. Sampath a hattrick of wins.
As in the past, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is yet to open its account even in the 140-member Kerala assembly, has fielded women this time too at a few constituencies.
And maintaining an eagle eye over the election that takes place April 10 is a woman. The present Chief Electoral Officer is Nalini Netto.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 19-03-2014)