As the Lok Sabha election draws closer, the political parties are getting ready with the announcement of their candidates to make the voters aware of their choices. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF), on Saturday became the first of the three major parties in Kerala to announce their poll candidates for the upcoming general elections. It has announced candidates for 16 seats while its ally, CPI had announced earlier announced its four candidates.
In the list of candidates, there are only two women and one new candidate. In the rest of the seats, six sitting MPs, four sitting MLAs, two former MPs and three former MLAs are contesting, needless to say, which are all men.
The decision to field just 2 women candidates, amounting to 10% of the total seats is highly regressive heeding the fact that Kerala is a state where the gender ratio is skewed towards women. This comes as a surprise considering that the Communist party in Kerala had portrayed themselves to be patrons of “gender equality” and “women empowerment”. A few months ago, the party had deployed any means necessary to desecrate the Sabarimala temple with absolutely no regard to the consideration of faith, ostensibly because the issue pertained to women’s rights.
After the Supreme Court had passed the judgment lifting the ban on women between the ages of 10-50 to enter the Sabarimala temple, CPI(M) had been vigorously trying to enforce it. During the entire agitation, CPM government justified its excesses on the devotees claiming that the entry of women in Sabarimala was part of the women empowerment initiative. This stance by the leftist party was regardless of the fact that women in large numbers had come out in support of the tradition which has been practiced at the shrine for long. The communist party had even organised a Women’s Wall event on January 1, where a large number, as claimed by the government, of Christian and Muslim women also participated with placards attacking “Brahminical Patriarchy” and in demand for the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple premises.
However, it seems CPM does not have the same enthusiasm for women empowerment when it comes to their political representation. This is quite expected, given the fact that CPM has been desperately opposing the criminalization of “Triple Talaq”, one of the most regressive and sexist practices in place in the country. PM Modi said, “The Left and the Congress make tall claims about respect to gender justice and social justice. But their actions are exactly the opposite. The NDA Government has been working towards abolishing Triple Talaq. Who is opposing us on this? The Communists and the Congress”.
This blatant encouragement of regressive laws coupled with the electoral representation makes the Communist party’s stance on women empowerment crystal clear. The agitation wasn’t about gender equality or rights of a woman, but the entire intent of the exercise was to desecrate the holy shrine of Sabarimala along with disrespecting and assaulting Hindu sentiments. Moreover, the “women empowerment mantra” was merely adopted to influence the vote bank by gaining favours from the unsuspecting women. The leftist party wanted to condition the women presume that there is a party which is looking out for their rights by influencing them to believe a fabricated version of the Sabarimala issue. When the time for actual political representation came, CPM conveniently forgot what it had preached.