Thiruvananthapuram: Congress in Kerala suffered a most embarrassing credibility loss, when a prominent party leader and chairperson of state Mahila Congress, Lathika Subhash, got her head tonsured at the KPCC headquarters within minutes of the party announcing its candidates list.
She also resigned her position as the Mahila Congress chief.
The dramatic response, which was in protest against her omission as well as other women recommended by her overshadowed the news of the release of the candidates list, which came at the end of intense parleys in Delhi, lasting several days.
It is obvious that the ruling Left Democratic Front and the BJP would gleefully accept this opportunity to discredit Congress and the UDF for denying women their due in the selection of candidates.
BJP’s Shobha Surendran, another victim of male chauvinism, promptly expressed solidarity with the aggrieved Congress leader and said she was feeling sorry for her. Sobha had her own tale of woe to narrate, as she was at one stage asked by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to contest the poll, but her name was struck off by the state party leadership, headed by her bitter rival K Surendran.
Lathika Subhash was hoping to get nominated in her home constituency of Ettumanur, but that seat was allocated to another UDF constituent, which meant that her claim was overruled. When Ettumanur was off, she was hoping to be selected for Vypin, home of her late husband, but that was also not to be.
Curiously, Lathika Subhash told media that she had informed KPCC president and veteran leader AK Antony that she would be forced to stage the ultimate protest if she was not considered. She said she was going back to her native place and would consult her supporters on what to do next. But she ruled out joining any other party.
The Mahila Congress leader was the only one dropped from the reckoning as other affiliate entities such as the Students Union and Youth Congress had their chiefs included in the list. She had given a list of women for being considered for contesting.
The protest drama had instant fallout, with several women leaders resigning their respective positons to express solidarity with her. A few men also followed suit, including a KPCC general secretary.
The Congress list only had 9 women in total, far too short of the 20 percent promised by AICC. There was not even one woman candidate per district.
A big surprise in the list was the inclusion of K Muraleedharan, MP, as the candidate in Nemam, the prestigious seat, which is the lone seat held by BJP in the outgoing assembly.
Sobha Surendran, suffering a similar disappointment in the BJP, used sarcasm to telling effect by wishing success to state party leader K Srendran, who is contesting from two seats, Konni in the south and Manjeshwaram in the north. He has previously tasted defeat in both constituencies.