Shillong, Jan. 27: At a time when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is pitching for an early passage to the women’s reservation bill and views women’s empowerment as a “big battle that should be fought and won,” the Congress in matrilineal Meghalaya is surprised by the reluctance of women to contest elections to two district councils.
The Meghalaya PCC today announced the names of candidates contesting the polls to the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) without any women nominees.
On January 23, the PCC released the names of candidates contesting the elections to the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC). There are 30 members each in KHADC and JHADC, 29 members contesting direct elections and one nominated member. The Congress is fielding only two women for the KHADC polls while no woman was set up for the JHADC polls.
“This question I should ask myself: why did they (women) not come forward?” PCC chief D.D. Lapang told reporters in reply to a query that why no women were selected as candidates for the JHADC elections. According to the PCC president, few women had applied for a Congress ticket for the polls. “Only one woman had applied for a party ticket for the JHADC polls but she could not qualify,” he claimed.
PCC working president and social welfare minister Deborah C. Marak also expressed surprise that such few women had joined the electoral fray. “The autonomous district council is an important body and I wonder why our womenfolk are not coming forward, especially in a matrilineal state like ours,” Marak said.
The PCC president hoped that the Congress would secure absolute majority in the forthcoming elections to the two councils despite the odds.
The influx issue arising out of the demand to implement inner-line permit is stacked heavily against the Congress. The elections to the two councils are also an acid test for the ruling party in Meghalaya ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
“We will work together and put up a united fight. We are hopeful that our party will get a majority in both the councils,” Lapang asserted.
Asked if money would play a major role in the polls, Lapang said, “Confidence and luck also work very well and money is not for everything.” He also said the candidates being fielded were decided by considering their winnability as the main criteria. Any Congress newcomer can also compete for a party ticket if he/she has a big chance of winning the polls, he added.
On whether rebel candidates who lost a party ticket would play spoilsport, Lapang said his party cannot stop people who go against the party.
The Congress in Meghalaya today ridiculed the Aam Aadmi Party, which has just set foot in the state a few days ago. “I wish them (AAP) well, let them thrive. But the Congress will continue to remain and survive,” Lapang said.
He said he was yet to learn about the people running the AAP in the state.