Agartala, Jan. 30: Sevika Reang, 36, a homemaker and wife of inspector of schools Ramendra Reang, had never been active in politics but for occasional attendance in meetings organised by the Congress in remote Kanchanpur sub-divisional town.
Sevika had never expected to be nominated as a party candidate for the Assembly election. She was overjoyed on January 5 when she found her name in the local newspapers as a Congress candidate for the Kanchanpur (ST) seat.
But the joy was short-lived as local Congress leader Sanjit Reang, who had lost the 2008 Assembly polls, threatened Sevika with dire consequences unless she withdrew.
Sevika left home for Agartala and could return only a fortnight later on the intervention of senior party leaders. Now, Tripura PCC president Sudip Roy Barman has conceded the seat to Drau Kumar Reang of the INPT.
This roughly sums up the plight of women in politics in Tripura. The 50 per cent reservation for women in the state’s 511 panchayats and 527 village committees, counterparts of panchayats in areas under the autonomous district council for indigenous people, is still flaunted by both the ruling Front and the Opposition as examples of women empowerment. But the profile of nomination for the February 14 Assembly election is a pointer to the plight of women in electoral politics.
The ruling Left Front has renominated four of its old nominees — minister for social welfare Bijita Nath, sitting MLAs, Rita Kar Mazumder and Gouri Das, former minister Vijay Laxmi Sinha and a new face, Tunu Malakar from the Fatikroy (SC) constituency -— all from the CPM. The CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc have not nominated any woman.
“We do not have women qualified to contest the polls, there is no denying this; but at the time of panchayat, nagar panchayat-AMC polls, we do put up women nominees,” said Shyamal Roy, general secretary of Forward Bloc.
The Congress has fared worse compared to the Left Front. The PCC has nominated only three women — all belonging to indigenous communities. They are Himani Debbarma for Charilam (ST) constituency, Jaydami Tripura from Chhawmanu (ST) constituency and Purnita Chakma from Pecharthal (ST) constituency.
“We wanted to nominate more candidates from among women but when you fight elections which is a political battle you need candidates with the maximum winning potential. We will definitely find out and train more women for elections in the future,” said PCC president.
Political exchanges apart, the number of women contesting the Assembly polls has gone down. In 2008, 31 women had contested the polls, but this time only 21, including four from SUCI and four Independents, have filed papers.