Women take on political heavyweights in Kerala poll
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is known for having a consistently high ratio of women to men, a matter confirmed recently in initial data revealed by the 2011 India census. The latest figures show Kerala having 1,084 women for every 1,000 men.
Fittingly, when Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and opposition leader Oommen Chandy contest the polls this time, both will have women opponents to face up to.
The octogenarian chief minister, who is seeking to retain his Malampuzha seat, is facing Lathika Subhash of the Congress.
Subhash has already proved that she is a smart political operator, starting her campaign from the home of the late Shari, one of the victims of Kerala's infamous sex scandals, and collecting the Rs101 needed to file her candidature from Shari's daughter Sneha.
The whole idea was to embarrass the Communist Party of India-Marxist camp, by stating that the chief minister, who has forever been promising to bring to book the culprits in sex scandals, has done nothing for victims like Shari. Shari had died in 2006, and made headlines owing to the political implications of the sex scandal in that year.
In Puthuppally constituency in Kottayam district, Chandy faces Suja Susan George of the CPM. For Chandy, who has never been defeated in Puthuppally, facing a female opponent is nothing novel, having defeated Sindhu Joy of the CPM in 2006 convincingly.
Ironically, Joy has crossed lines to the United Democratic Front and is campaigning for Chandy this time in a complete reversal of political ideologies.
Joy is also helping the UDF camp in a broader sense by harping on the "suffering" she faced in the CPM, where she alleges she had been sidelined in recent years. She has said on the campaign trail that "if the CPM could not take care of me while I was party member, how can it take care of the women of Kerala as Achuthanandan promises to do?"
Unlike in 2006, Chandy has to face up to a few prickly issues this time around.
One of them is the debate about why he has not been made one of the accused in the palmolein case though he was the finance minister when the decision to import palmolein was taken.
Another controversy was sparked recently when former Congress minister K.K. Ramachandran alleged that Chandy had pressurised him with regard to clearance of a project which Ramachandran thought had sniffed of corruption.