“I am protesting against the Congress party for neglecting female candidates in this election,” declared Lathika Subhash, the president of Kerala Pradesh Mahila Congress, as she announced her resignation from the post on Sunday after the party announced its list of candidates for the 2021 Kerala Assembly election. Soon, dramatic scenes unfolded on the premises of the head office of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) in Thiruvananthapuram. She sat down on a chair, put a cloth around her neck and then tonsured her head, to mark her resignation from the post and in protest.
As other members of the Mahila Congress stood around Lathika, Ramani P Nair, the secretary of the organisation, wept. Ramani, too, later resigned from her post.
After a protracted wait, KPCC Mullappally Ramachandran finally announced the candidate list for the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections, in New Delhi. However, back home, in Kerala, it only resulted in a huge outburst among the party workers, with the first reaction from Lathika, followed by mass resignations by members from other organisations of the party.
Among the 86 candidates the KPCC president announced on Sunday, only nine seats have been allotted to the female candidates. Speaking to the media after Mullapally Ramachandran announced the list, Lathika pointed out that women candidates were neglected by the Congress.
“Why are more women not included in the list? We asked for 20% of the seats for women on the list. Kerala Students Union President and Youth Congress president also got a seat. Then why did the Mahila Congress President did not get a seat? I am not fighting for me, but I am fighting as a representative of more women," said Lathika.
"I started working for the Congress when I was 16. I kept the Congress close to my heart for the last 40 years. I am not protesting because I was denied a seat, but because the Mahila Congress was neglected. My protest is to ensure at least the next president of the Mahila Congress is not neglected in future,” she added.
After declaring her resignation from the presidential post of Kerala Pradesh Mahila Congress, she tonsured her head. She said she had sought a seat in Ettumanoor, which is her native. "I had contacted Mullapally Ramachandran and AK Antony to express my demand. I had also warned them I would protest if the seat was denied," she added.
Lathika also added that she will neither join any other party nor leave the Congress.
Earlier, there were reports that Lathika would be given a seat in the Vypeen Assembly constituency, but at the last moment, another candidate was considered.
Reacting to the development from Delhi, Mullapally Ramachandran said that they have neither neglected the Mahila Congress nor Lathika Subhash. He said that she will be considered in the next elections. The KPCC president also said that the protest is “out of sudden anger” and that she will not act against the party as she was so close to the party.
Watch: Lathika Subash tonsure head in protest