Reservation for women, political emancipation of women- all this doesn't matter. At least in posters that have sprung up for two women candidates for the local polls in Malappuram, Kerala.
Posters of women candidates in Manjeri municipality and in Karuvambalam panchayat have no women in them.
The United Democratic Front's (UDF) ally, Indian Union of Muslim League's (IUML) candidate Soujath in Manjeri was formally introduced on the poster as 'wife'.
â€śVote for Soujath, the wife of Thalappil Kunjaan,â€ť the poster said and carried images of Kunjaan, a local leader and those of Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, IUML state president.
UDF and IUML weren't alone in this travesty.
An independent candidate backed by the Left Democratic Front too was nowhere to be seen on posters meant for her. Rajina Kunjippa's campaign posters had the picture of her husband Madathil Kunjippa, the local leader of Valapuram, Malappuram.
So are these women simply proxy candidates that have been fielded because the rules mandate 50% reservation for women or is there a religious angle to this mess?
IUML leader Kunjaan denied all allegations to The Times of India.
â€śWe will start second round of election campaign using the posters with the pictures of my wife. There were no religious or any other reasons behind the decision to avoid the pictures of my wife from the poster. I am more familiar than my wife in the region and so, some party workers decided to use my picture on the poster,â€ś told TOI.
Muslim League Malappuram district Committee Secretary P Abdul Hameed told The News Minute that there are no restrictions on women appearing in posters.
â€śWe have not kept any such restrictions, women have all rights. We have done many projects for the upliftment of women in our community. They might have done that to introduce the women candidates as their husbands are familiar,â€ť he said.
This meme by the International Chalu Union explains it perfectly. That's a League man in hospital for his pregnant wife's checkup, sans the wife of course. Another patient is surprised, just like us.