Politicians fielding their wives and daughters is nothing new in Tamil Nadu elections, but with 50 per cent seats reserved for women in local body polls, the infighting and intense lobbying for seats have started among the rank and file of the ruling AIADMK.
The Indian political system is such that the family is always embedded in politics offering political space for heirs. This happens at national and state-level politics and now it will happen at the municipal level, opined Professor Ramu Manivannan, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras. The reservation of women in local body polls will certainly ensure more participation of women in politics and it will empower women as a decision-maker on local policy matters, Manivannan said.
When contacted, AIADMK leader and former minister Gokula Indira said that former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016 had passed two crucial Assembly Bills, enabling 50 per cent reservation to women in all local bodies. This is a milestone for women in politics and this Bill will ensure that the woman active in politics are rewarded with seats. For example, if a ward secretary asks the councillor seat for his wife it cannot be discouraged. It is the women at home, who support the political activities of their husbands. The entire family starts working for the party. So, what is wrong in giving a seat for a woman who assists both the family and the party, Gokula Indira opined. According to Indira, the reservation will bring a new set of women leaders in TN making the state more progressive and secular.
Earlier, 33 per cent seats were reserved for women during the DMK regime and later Jayalalithaa hiked the reservation up to 50 per cent to promote women empowerment. Jayalalithaa had opined that cities and rural areas would develop faster if there were more women representatives in local bodies as councillors.