Out of the 70 seats of the 100-ward corporation, for which the CPI(M) has released the list, 46 are women candidates, many of them below 30.

Collage of three young women smiling with the first woman in a blue and orange salwar and the other two in white Saris Arya, Gayathri, Saranya
news Kerala local body polls 2020 Saturday, November 07, 2020 - 19:19

Saranya enters a home in Kannanmoola, Thiruvananthapuram. The evening campaign has just begun and the 23-year-old introduces herself to the voters of the ward as the candidate for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) – for the upcoming local body elections for the Thiruvananthapuram corporation. Including her, there are 46 women contesting the elections, out of the 70 names released by the CPI(M) for the 100-ward corporation. The party is fielding women in 66% of these 70 seats, and many of them are young, under 30 years of age.

“I have been active in politics, working for the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and was part of the union in the All Saints College where I did my Bachelors in History. After that, I did my PG diploma in journalism at the Thiruvananthapuram press club,” Saranya says.

Like other candidates contesting the wards which were won by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) last election, Saranya highlights the development work done so far, and how she shall continue it. “I will also be focusing on women’s empowerment, on enabling self-employment and bringing women to the mainstream,” she says. Her father is a daily wage labourer and member of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

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Contesting the Vanchiyoor ward is another young candidate, Gayathri Babu, who is just short of 23 years and was just about to apply for PhD when she became a candidate following in the footsteps of her father, Vanchiyoor P Babu. He has been the ward councillor for the past five years. Vanchiyoor has since been reserved for women and Gayathri joined the fray, straight from Pondicherry Central University, where she was doing her Masters in Economics and had just cleared the UGC NET exam.

“Apart from continuing the development work implemented in the ward, I’d also work for the upliftment of women. There are married educated women who are unemployed. They could teach children of the same ward, take tuitions and classes for them. Every Saturday, this ward runs a market to sell agricultural produce from homes of people. Eggs, milk or anything produced at homes are sold to other people of the same region. Sometimes they’d also exchange goods, like in a barter system. I’d like to start a women’s market for the same purpose,” Gayathri says.

A little away in Mudavanmugal ward is another woman candidate, 21-year-old Arya Rajendran, who too is busy with a meeting on Saturday evening. She is the state president of Balasangam, a children's organisation affiliated to the CPI(M). She is also a state committee member of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and a branch committee member of CPI(M). At 21, Arya is politically very active, while she is a BSc student of All Saints College. “Coming from a children’s organisation, I’d focus on upgrading the lower primary school in the ward, apart from continuing the other developmental work already ongoing,” Arya says. 

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