Published: 15th March 2021
Kerala Elections 2021: Congress pins hope on youth, but falter on promise to field more women
Of the 86 candidates declared, as many as 44 are debutants, a party source said. The state chief has stated that above 55 per cent of the candidates are fresh faces. But only nine are women
While Congress has managed to keep its promise of fielding new and young faces, its assurance of a better representation for women has fallen by the wayside, leading to protests and criticism. However, political observers said the list of candidates -- announced by the party's Kerala president Mullappally Ramachandran in New Delhi on Sunday -- is by far the best in terms of a surprise element and novelty when compared to previous elections.
Of the 86 candidates declared, as many as 44 are debutants, a party source said. The state chief has stated that above 55 per cent of the candidates are fresh faces. But only nine are women, which is just over 10 per cent. In the 2016 assembly polls too, Congress fielded nine women even as it contested in 85 seats. But all of them lost. Sources indicated that another woman and a few more fresh faces may be named in the remaining six seats.
Two medical practitioners and two doctorate holders are among the Congress candidates. Forty-six of them are in the age group of 25 to 50 while 22 candidates are aged between 51 and 60. KSU state president K M Abhijith, who is seeking people's mandate from Kozhikode North, and Aritha Babu, contesting from Kayamkulam, are the youngest male and female candidates respectively, according to party leaders. While both are 27, Aritha is younger by months, making her the youngest in the list.
"Considering the representation of youths and new faces, the Congress list looks better. Compared to the CPM, which is contesting in 85 seats, more youths figured in the Congress list," said P Sujathan, a political observer.
Despite that, protests broke out immediately after Mullappally announced the names. "Usually, protest rallies are taken out only after a day, or after some hours. But this time, a woman leader (Lathika Subhash) tonsured her head in front of the party headquarters soon after the declaration of candidates," Sujathan said.
Political analyst J Prabhash too felt the Congress list is better compared to previous years. "To some extent, it is better. But the list indicates that Congress is not prepared for any bold experiment even during such a crucial period for the party in Kerala. In contrast, the CPM proved that they are ready for a political experiment by denying seats to 33 sitting MLAs," he said.