Tamil Nadu is all set to queue up outside polling booths on April 18, which falls in the phase two of Lok Sabha elections 2019. But across the state’s 39 constituencies, only 66 candidates are women and one is a transwoman, out of a total of 845 candidates. Thus women make up to be 7.81% of all the candidates fighting for a Lok Sabha seat this year. The state is going to polls for the first time without J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi steering AIADMK and DMK respectively. This is also the first time a transwoman, M Radha alias Ramanujam has filed her nomination to contest elections from the Chennai South constituency.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Total number of candidates are 845, of which 66 are women making it 7.81%.
  • Total number of independent candidates are 557, of which only 27 are women making it 4.84%.
  • NTK fielded 50% women candidates with 18 candidates in total. While AIADMK fielded one, DMK fielded two and both BJP and Congress fielded one female candidate respectively.
  • Despite the appalling number of women candidates, there are a few who fall in the “winnable” category.

Across the state with 39 constituencies, only 66 out of the total 845 candidates are women.

WOMEN VOTERS UP, CANDIDATES FEW?

While the state sees an upward curve in its total number of eligible women voters at 3,02,69,045, outnumbering men voters who stand at 2,95,94,923, according to the latest electoral rolls released by Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo, women candidates constitute for not even 10% of the total number of candidates. It is important to note that in a state that consistently sees more women voters than men, as women voters outnumber men in 190 Assembly constituencies against the total 234 constituencies, there are fewer representatives from their own gender to raise their issues.

When it comes to independent candidates, only 27 from total of 557 are women (4.84%). M Radha is also contesting from Chennai South independently.

In the state that consistently sees more women voters than men, there are fewer representatives from their own gender to raise their issues.

NUMBERS TO KNOW-

  • Constituencies = 39
  • Candidates = 845
  • Women candidates = 66
  • Constituencies with no women candidates = 7

The highest number of women candidates, six in total, are contesting from Chennai South constituency. They are Sumathy alias Thamizhachi Thangapandian of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and independent candidates—M Rajeswari Priya, A.J.Sherine, C.Rosi and J Janci and M. Radha. While Chennai Central, Karur, Nagapattinam and Tenkasi have four women candidates contesting from each of these constituencies. Then five constituencies comprising of Kancheepuram, Erode, Madurai, Thoothukudi and Tirunelvelli have fielded three candidates each. Further moving down the order of highest to lowest women candidates fielded in constituencies, seven constituencies see two women candidates each and 15 constituencies have only one woman candidate each respectively. Thus a total of seven constituencies do not have any woman candidate nominated to contest in the Lok Sabha election.

NATIONAL AND KNOWN REGIONAL PARTIES DISAPPOINT

  • Naam Tamilar Katchi = 18
  • Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam = 2
  • All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam = 1
  • Bhartiya Janta Party = 1
  • Congress = 1
  • Bahujan Samaj Party = 3
  • Other regional parties = 12

Regional party Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) has left all national and known regional parties behind by fielding 50% women candidates (18 in all) while other regionally celebrated parties like All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and DMK have given tickets to just two (Sumathy from Chennai South and Kanimozhi Karunanidhi from Thoothukudi) and one (K Margatham from Kancheepuram) female candidates respectively. National parties are no better, as Congress and BJP both fielded only one female candidate each—S Jothimani of Congress from Karur and Dr Tamilisai Soundarrajan of BJP from Thoothukudi.

CONSTITUENCY-WISE WOMEN CANDIDATES

  • With 6 women candidates = 1
  • With four women candidates = 4
  • With three women candidates each = 5
  • With two women candidates each = 7
  • With one woman candidate each = 15
  • Independent women candidates= 27

A total of seven constituencies do not have any woman candidate nominated to contest in the Lok Sabha election.

Tamil Nadu Women Candidates
Tamil Nadu Women Candidates (Source= Political Shakti)

WINNABLE WOMEN CANDIDATES

While these numbers do disappoint, there are a few women who fall in the “winnable” category. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi contesting from Thoothukudi is a serving MP in Rajya Sabha for Tamil Nadu. The politician was a journalist before her foray into politics. She supports and participates in organizing women empowerment programs, welfare of differently abled people and transgender people.

NTK candidate M Vetriselvi from Thiruvallur is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time and the party’s Chennai North candidate Kalliammal is an MBA graduate who is also a fisher woman. Kalliammal is also the only woman candidate filed by a major party in North Chennai.

National parties are no better as Congress and BJP both fielded only one female candidate each—S Jothimani of Congress from Karur and Dr Tamilisai Soundarrajan of BJP from Thoothukudi.

AIADMK’s K Margadam, who is contesting from Kancheepuram is a sitting MP from the same constituency. She is one of the four Women elected from Tamil Nadu, all of whom belong to same party AIADMK. Kameela Nasser of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) is contesting from Chennai Central and she is battling against PMK’s (in alliance with AIADMK) Sam Paul and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran. She is an MPhil in Child Development & Family Relations and she promises include job creation, free housing scheme and conservation of water bodies, if elected.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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