The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Let a thousand Brindas bloom

New Delhi, Feb. 25: Male chauvinists in the CPM, be warned ' you might just be toppled from your throne of pati parmeswar some time soon.

For, the party wants to rope more Brinda Karats into its ranks so that it can boast an equitable man/woman ratio.

Not just that, it would like women to break all stereotypes ' shake off the purdah, refuse to play second fiddle to their husbands or even keep home and hearth for him till the end of time.

Most important, it wants women to stay on in the party after marriage and not take up a job to pay the bills while the men folk continue to dabble in politics whole time.

No, the CPM has not come out clear that a “second sex” exists in its rungs. But in a first-ever document adopted at its central committee meeting in December, it has conceded it has a skewed gender profile.

“Communist families should discourage conformity to stereotypical roles expected of women, particularly of newly-wed women, of covering heads, taking to purdah, shouldering the main burdens of domestic responsibility,” it says in Women’s Issues and Tasks. The document also calls for ending discrimination between sons and daughters.

The December decisions have now been put together in a booklet which has started doing the rounds in the party.

“There have been many cases of two active comrades in the party deciding to get married. In some cases, the marriage then becomes a barrier for the woman’s advance, because' she is expected to give up her political life and become a housewife.

“By not intervening, the party actually loses a talented and committed cadre, apart from having a negative impact on the woman.”

That should thrill the feminists no end, but the CPM is not done yet. It does not mince words that in case of financial constraints, it’s the women who quit the party.

“The woman comrade is expected to find a job to support the family although both may be equally qualified in terms of the party’s assessment of their work.”

Possibly, such a finger could be pointed at most men but general secretary Prakash Karat is an exception. His wife Brinda is the only woman who has managed to pocket a politburo berth in a set-up that is overwhelmingly male.

A jab is, however, made at Karat’s home state Kerala and Red bastion Bengal. “There is unfortunately no specific policy to encourage women whole-timers even in states where the party is strong.”

At present, the CPM has about 500 women whole-timers.

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