Penn and Politics is a series where we bring you the voices of aspiring women political leaders and politicians contesting in the 2021 Assembly elections, in a move towards better representation of women in politics.
When Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, Mullappally Ramachandran, announced United Democratic Front's (UDF) Aritha Babu's candidature from Kayamkulam constituency, he highlighted the fact that she has been looking after her family for many years by rearing cows and selling milk.
Aritha, at 26, is the youngest candidate fielded by the UDF. The party expects her to put up a good fight against Left Democratic Front's (LDF) Prathibha Hari, the sitting MLA, who won in 2016 with a record majority.
In 2015, Aritha was elected to the Alappuzha District Panchayat when she was just 21, she was also a Kerala Students Union worker. She entered politics inspired by her father, who was a Congress worker.
Aritha speaks to TNM from Kayamkulam and talks about her dream projects for the constituency.
Why do you want to run? And why should people vote for you?
I have big plans for the development of Kayamkulam. For the last 15 years, LDF represented the constituency but they couldn't do anything when it came to development. I want to create more job opportunities for the youth here, by bringing new life to the tourism sector. I will also work to bring a Taluk here in Kayamkulam, as it has been a long-held demand.
What is your biggest contribution to the welfare of people, so far?
When I was a District Panchayat member for five years, I was able to get involved in many important issues. I was able to help with the renovation of many anganwadis. Also, the development of a school in division was another achievement. When there were irregularities in appointments at Kayamkulam Taluk hospital, I spoke up about it.
If you win, as an MLA what laws do you think need to be brought in or changed?
I would like to advocate for bringing more transparency in Public Service Commission examinations of the state. I would work on speeding up the whole process so that the eligible candidates, who secured high marks in the exams, are placed soon.
Why do you think women MLAs are important for the state?
There are many inspirational women. Even though many of them were inside the house they were able to spread their ideology to others. So when women step into politics it is very positive. Women have always been the strength of the Congress party.
What are the top issues in your constituency that will be your priority after you win?
Employment for the youngsters by reviving the tourism sector of Kayamkulam will be a priority. Also I have a plan for the overall development of the constituency without losing its legacy and heritage. Advocating for a Taluk in Kayamkulam is another agenda I have.
Are you going to be campaigning on the strength of your party and its chief? What is your pitch as a candidate, beyond your party?
The Congress party is a platform where we can express our opinion, which will be accepted too. Even the manifesto is prepared by taking the opinion of people from different sectors. So being in this party doesn't mean that we should act only according to party ideology, I can implement my own rights and thoughts in my social life.