Despite political parties in Tamil Nadu voicing the need to reserve a third of the seats in state legislatures and Parliament for women, very few women candidates have been nominated to contest the Lok Sabha elections from here.
The incumbent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), led by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, is fielding only four women candidates for the 40 seats.
Similarly, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which asserted it will strive for 33 per cent reservation in its election manifesto, has nominated only two women candidates. The CPI-M also named only two women candidates of the nine seats it is contesting in Tamil Nadu. Even with Tamil Nadu being home to prominent women like CM Jayalalitha, K Kanimozhi and Jayanthi Natarajan, who are visible on the national stage, these factors have not really translated into empowering women by nominating more of them to be lawmakers in Parliament.
Asked to account for this, a senior AIADMK minister said, “It is a continuous process and nomination of more women will happen slowly. In the panchayat election, we had given more than 35 per cent nomination to women candidates.”
A consolation is that this time, CM Jayalalithaa's party has improved its ratio over 2009, when it fielded only two female candidates. The DMK, on the other hand, accepted that there should have been more women candidates in the party's list of candidates, but sought to put the blame on the district level leadership whose mindset, he acknowledged, had not undergone much change and acted as a roadblock.