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Just seven women candidates in Tamil Nadu

Only seven women are contesting the parliamentary elections from Tamil Nadu, which has 39 seats. MDMK and the left parties have not nominated any women. Ruling AIADMK has fielded two and DMK, contesting 14 seats, has nominated only three women.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Chennai
PUBLISHED ON APR 27, 2004 01:59 PM IST

Only seven women are contesting the parliamentary elections from Tamil Nadu, which has 39 seats.

The neighbouring union territory of Pondicherry has a lone parliamentary seat, for which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded social worker Lalitha Kumaramangalam against M. Ramadoss from the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).

Neither the PMK nor the BJP has put up any women candidates in Tamil Nadu.

The BJP had reportedly identified a woman candidate for the Chidambaram reserved seat, but she refused to accept the offer.

BJP state women's wing president Lalitha Subash says, "Women lack political awareness".

The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and the left parties too have not nominated any women either.

The state has 25,044,108 women voters against 24,224,360 men voters.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is this time contesting 33 of the 39 seats. It has fielded two women.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which is contesting 14 seats, has nominated three women.

The Congress has fielded former legislative assembly member K. Rani in the Rasipuram reserved constituency.

A small party called the New Justice Party, which has formed an alliance with the Janata Party's local unit, has nominated Hemavathi Velavan to contest the Tiruchirapalli seat.

Contesting the lone Pondicherry seat, Lalitha Kumaramangalam is the sister of late union power minister Rangarajan Kumaramanglam, whose stronghold was Tiruchirapalli.

An outsider in Pondicherry, Kumaramangalam is banking on the family name, the AIADMK support and superstar Rajnikanth's blessings to see her through in a Congress bastion occupied by the PMK.

In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, led by chief minister J. Jayalalitha, claims to have "for the first time in the history of any political movement in the world", to have introduced 33 per cent reservation for women in all party posts.

The party's most high-profile woman candidate in these elections is Jayalalitha's school-mate Bader Sayeed, a Chennai lawyer, who has been given the South Chennai seat against DMK veteran and former union environment minister T.R. Baalu.

The convent-educated Sayeed was made the first woman chairperson of the Wakf Board just about a year ago.

The other AIADMK woman candidate is from Vandavasi, in north Tamil Nadu's Thiruvannamalai district.

Rajlakshmi Rajan, the Polur village union chairperson, will face another former union minister and senior MDMK leader Gingee N. Ramachandran, who has changed his seat from Tindivanam to Vandavasi.

The DMK candidate Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, contesting from the Tiruchengode seat is well known as a former DMK minister who was named in the Jain commission's inquiry report on the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

She now has Congress workers campaigning for her.

Bhavani Rajendran has been given the Ramanathapuram seat. The DMK lost this seat in 1999 by just a margin of 7,000 votes, and the party thinks it was a "narrow" margin, "winnable now".

In her favour is the fact that the sitting MP K. Malaichamy has not been re-nominated by Jayalalitha. The AIADMK chief has chosen to contest C. Murugesan, the AIADMK's local district secretary.

Going against her is also the fact that nearly half the electorate of nearly 1.2 million are women who would vote for 'Amma' as Jayalalitha is called, rather than the DMK.

The problems Rajendran would have to deal with include unemployment and water scarcity in a district that has sent a president to Rashtrapati Bhavan and where the AIADMK has promised great development.

DMK's V. Radhika Selvi, fighting the Tiruchendur seat, is the widow of gangster Venkatesa Pannaiyar, shot dead by the Chennai police in an encounter last year.

The AIADMK has fielded newcomer T. Damodaran against Radhika, who is banking on the Nadar and backward vote and peoples' sympathy.

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