Women failed yet again to penetrate a male bastion called Nagaland assembly but the February polls underscored the rise of women on the political horizon in the Northeast. Two parties – CPI(M) in Tripura and Congress in Meghalaya – left others behind in creating space for women.
All the five women candidates fielded by CPI(M) for the February 14 polls in Tripura won comfortably. The percentage of their victory was 100% compared to 88% for the Left party’s male candidates (44 out of 50 fielded).
In Meghalaya, four out of six candidates the Congress fielded won. This translated into a 67% win for the party’s women candidates in the 60-member assembly compared to 46% for the males (25 out of 54 fielded).
The performance of women candidates means a strike rate of 28% in Tripura (five out of total 18 candidates) and 16% in Meghalaya (four out of 25). This is a huge improvement over Tripura’s 6% (two out of 31 candidates) and Meghalaya’s 5% (one out of 19) in 2008.
Doubts about the ‘winnability’ of these candidates were silenced by the margin of victory. The lowest margin of victory was 1,313 votes by which CPI(M)’s Gouri Das beat Gourisankar Roy of Congress to bag the Tealiamura seat in Tripura.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul M Sangma’s wife Dikkanchi D Shira of Congress beat her nearest United Democratic Party rival Nimarson Momin to win the Mahendraganj seat in Meghalaya by the highest margin of 6,859 votes.
Two others won by more than 5,000 votes – CPI(M)’s Rita Kar Majumdar in Sabroom (Tripura) and Congress’ Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh in East Shillong (Meghalaya).
“Women form our party’s backbone, and they outperformed males in turning out at polling stations. It was our duty to give them the space they deserve in positions of power and eventually in governance,” Tripura CPI(M)’s secretary Bijan Dhar said from state capital Agartala.