Dissatisfied that many women didn’t get fielded: Congress MLA Vijayadharani to TNM

Vijayadharani, a two-MLA from Vilavancode is the only woman candidate from Congress in Tamil Nadu.
Vilavancode Congress MP Vijayadharani
Vilavancode Congress MP Vijayadharani
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Vijayadharani, General Secretary of All India Mahila Congress and two-time MLA from Vilavancode constituency in Kanyakumari district, where she has been fielded again, is confident about securing a hatrick. The Congress announced Vijayadharani as the candidate in the delayed second list since her candidature ran into several controversies. Yet,  Vijayadharani, a lawyer and the great-granddaughter of social reformer Kavimani Desigavinayagam Pillai, has been fielded again in her stronghold. She is also Congress’ lone woman candidate in Tamil Nadu.  

Between attending calls and addressing the people of her constituency in both Tamil and Malayalam, Vijayadharini spoke to TNM about the controversy surrounding the allocation of Vilavancode seat, on less representation for women and more. 

How was your experience serving as a woman party whip in the Assembly and did you face any challenges?

In the Assembly, if you're a whip from the Opposition party, then there will be several difficulties. You will not be allowed to talk and it is a huge responsibility to echo the decisions of your party. However, none of the works got incapacitated because I was a woman but I just excelled. 

What are the top two-three issues in your constituency that will be your priority after you win?

In the private forests issue, I want to relieve patta lands from the Preservation of Private Forests Act,1949. Secondly, the boundary for the eco-sensitive areas should be fixed in a way that it doesn't affect the people of my constituency. I want to construct a memorial for freedom movement martyrs in the municipality park in Kulithalai.

Your party conducted a huge protest during Cyclone Ockhi but what were the relief measures you took as a MLA and where do you think the government failed?

In my constituency, many thatched roofs were blown away so I demanded the government to give roofs but they gave only Rs 5,000 for revamping some homes but that was not enough. So I was involved in the rehabilitation work and I made the government pay the compensation for the deceased.

I am a silent worker but even after that people talk against my work.

Are the accusers from the Congress or from other parties? 

Everyone. In Congress, the people who demanded this seat and my competitors make these allegations. For them, they are trying to make the only woman MLA of Congress as their top target. It’s politics and I understand.

There was a delay in releasing the second list of Congress candidates. Why was it? 

This is a winning constituency for Congress and hence many people wanted this constituency. They thought that if they keep accusations against me, the leadership will deny the seat without verifying their claims. However, the top leadership gave me the seat.

In 2016, there was speculation that you may join another party. However you are still with Congress now, so are you happy?

I am not sure if other parties want me to join them or if people of my party want me to move to other parties so that I’ll vacate the seat. However, women face issues like this in all places. I have an ideology and I cannot shift to another party.

You are in a position to make more women come to the fore. However, why do women still get less representation in Congress? 

I am dissatisfied that many women did not get fieded. When I was in Mahila Congress, there was no post created in 11 years but I gave posts to 320  women across the state. I am doing everything possible for women. However, it’s out of my hands to make women get elected as MLAs and MPs. That’s with the party and even if they give seats it’s not possible to win all the seats. That’s why I ask for reservation, if seats are reserved for women then someway or the other women can come to power.

What do you think about MP Jothimani’s tweet saying that hard-working Congress members are not getting a seat and money plays an important role in candidature?

I think she would have had certain things on her mind when she made the statement. There might have been several things but party leadership makes a decision only after a strong review.

In Congress, there is dissatisfaction across the state while deciding the candidates. Why so?

When we are in an alliance there are several sacrifices made but we cannot say that it’s wrong. So if our leadership announces something then our views should be that way. But I am dissatisfied with few women representation and I’ll talk about it to the leadership. 

In this election, AIADMK is accusing Congress and DMK of dynasty politics. So what’s your take on that?

If someone is coming from a family with political background, there may be scenarios where they’ll know politics better. If they have such a view, we need to encourage them and we should also give recognition to people without political background. It should be balanced and not everyone is going based on dynasty. Even OPS’s son was given an MP seat. Wasn't that dynasty politics?. How many next-generation leaders are given seats in Congress and DMK? Only a few, the rest are given only to people from non-political families.

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