While reporting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the mainstream media gave all its attention to prominent national leaders, who also happened to be, well, mostly men. While there was a little coverage of women candidates, it was mostly centred on elite women and their households, husbands, and children. Very little has been reported about women MPs who have been working on the ground, in their states, fighting issues ranging from caste, gender, unemployment and environment. The victory of many of these women MPs can be considered historical landmarks.
Here are some women MPs of 2019 whose work will make them be your inspirational leaders instantly.
1. Remya Haridas
With her victory from the Alathur constituency, Remya Haridas has become the second Dalit woman MP from Kerala ever. The first was Bhargavi Rhankappan who represented CPI from the Adoor seat in 1971. Remya is also the sole woman MP to be elected from Kerala in this election. She represented the Congress-led United Democratic Front. In this election, she secured 533815 votes and defeated CPI’s PK Biju by a margin of more than 158968 votes which is considered a major triumph to pull up in this CPI dominated area.
Haridas has now been associated with Congress for over two years. This association began when she was shortlisted for the Talent Hunt programme started by Rahul Gandhi in 2011. Forums such as Jawahar Balajana Vedi and the Kerala Students Union (KSU) had fuelled her growth during her studentship. She was also the National coordinator of the Youth Congress and won the Nehru Yuva Kendra award for the best public worker in 2007.
With her victory from the Alathur constituency, Remya Haridas has become the second Dalit woman MP from Kerala ever.
At the time when Remya’s name was announced, she was the Block Panchayat President of Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode, Kerala, a position she left after the elections. Under the Ekta Parishad, Remya actively raised the demands and rights of the Adivasi community. In 2012, she represented the country at a global youth meet held in Japan.
Her father is a daily wage labourer and her mother is a tailor. But her election shows how she managed to not let her background ever stop her and how overcame the challenges that life constantly threw at her. In fact, she used her humble background to understand the people and to make a connection with them. “I come from a very humble background. So I know what the needs and aspirations of the people are and I will be with the people of Alathur if I win,” was one of the things she constantly said during her campaigns.
While the people of Alathur criticised her opponent for his lack of presence, Remya managed to please them with her diverse campaign. Being a graduate in music, Remya used to participate in many art festivals. She constantly used her singing talent as a tool during her campaigning. She used to connect to the public with her songs.
2. Chandrani Murmu
This 25 year old, engineering graduate has become the youngest MP in the history of India. Representing the Biju Janata Dal, Chandrani has been elected from the Keonjhar constituency of Odisha.
A greenhorn in politics, she has been supported by the youth, women, and tribals of her region, and she wishes to represent their voices at the centre. Chandrani said that her major focus was on generating employment and setting up new industries in Odisha. “It is unfortunate that the employment crisis is high in a mineral-rich district like Keonjhar” she said.
Chandrani defeated a two-time BJP MP, Ananta Nayak with a margin of 66203 votes. She countered those who judged her by her age by saying “when I have already opted for politics as a career, my age will not determine how forceful my voice in Parliament will be.”
3. Goddeti Madhavi
Winning from the Araku constituency, Goddeti will be the youngest MP from Andhra Pradesh. At 1.4 lakhs, she had the least declared assets amongst all the winning MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha elections.
Goddeti defeated a six time MP, Kishore Chandra Deo, who has been a former member of the Congress Working Committee, a former Tribal Affairs Minister, by a margin of 224098 votes.
Goddeti belongs to the Konda Dora scheduled tribe community and has been a physical education teacher. She was appointed as the Araku Lok Sabha YSRCP Coordinator soon after she joined YSRCP and within a short span, she gained popularity for her hard work.
4. Maloth Kavitha
This 38-year-old BSc graduate is the first tribal woman to win from the Mahabubabad constituency of Telangana. She is also the sole woman to bag a seat from this state in this election.
Maloth represented the TRS and defeated the Congress candidate Porika Balram Naik by a margin of over 160000 votes.
5. Pramila Bisoi
This 70-year-old, class 2 drop out, won from the Aska constituency of Odisha. Bisoi is an Anganwadi sahyika, a self-help group worker, and a staunch promoter of women’s participation in all spheres.
She has been a true leader for the people of her village. An advocate of Mission Shakti, the women’s SHG movement of Odisha, she has constantly advocated for the education of children and employment of women. She has also undertaken work on sanitation, health, and nutrition. And she has been involved in the development of several sustainable models of agriculture and water conservation. “Nothing will change if we do not work for it, and who but women know how to turn things around?” she says.
Bisoi has been a strong advocator of a communitarian way of building society. She guides women on how to maintain the agricultural lands and jungles of their region, and how to access safe drinking water. For all this, Bisoi has been awarded the Prakruti Bandhu and the Prakruti Mitra awards by the forest and environment department of the Odisha government.
Bisoi, fondly known as mausi, belongs to a humble family and owns less than an acre of land. Her elder son runs a small tea stall and, the younger works in a garage. With no source of stable income, Bisoi and her family rely on the 10000-12000 Rs that they earn annually by producing wheat and ragi.
Independent Women MPs
Navneet Rana, a Telugu film actress, has been elected from Amravati constituency of Maharasthra. She fought the elections as an independent candidate, backed by NCP and defeated a 5 time MP, Anand Adsul, breaking a 20-year streak. Navaneet is also the first woman MP of the constituency after 28 years.
Women and other marginalised communities are making a difference in private and public spheres.
Sumalatha Ambareesh, who had earlier been involved in Malayam cinema, has been elected from the Mandya constituency of Karnataka. She was denied ticket by the Congress, and she resigned from Financial Services of BJD to democratically secure a seat in the parliament. With her historic win, she becomes Karnataka’s first independent MP in 52 years, and only the third independent candidate from the state to win the Lok Sabha election.
Women MPs from Tamil Nadu
Thamizhachi Thangapandian is a politician, writer, poet, actress, and academician. This DMK candidate won from the Chennai South constituency by defeating AIADMK’s candidate and MP Jayavardhan with a margin of 262223 votes.
Jothimani Sennimalai, from the Congress, won the seat of Karur against the five-time AIADMK candidate and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai. She worked her way from the start; elected as a panchayat member at 22, she was also the General Secretary of Indian Youth Congress, and later held several other positions as well.
Muthuvel Karunanidhi Kanimozhi is a politician, poet, and journalist. The deputy leader of DMK, Kanimozhi returned to the parliament from the Toothukkudi constituency against BJP’s state President Tamilisai Soundararajan with a margin of 347000 votes. Kanimozhi has long been a voice for women’s issues in state and national politics and has led the demand for the women’s reservation bill in the parliament. She has also been an instrumental part in setting up the Transgender Welfare Board in Tamil Nadu. She has fought against casteism and has made efforts to ensure that Dalits in her ward get water which was earlier denied to them. Muthuvel also represented Tamil Nadu in the upper house of India’s parliament in her previous term.
Need For More Women MPs
Women and other marginalised communities are making a difference in private and public spheres. They are making a difference politically. For centuries, the social politics of our country has been led by women, especially from the marginalised communities, in many ways, whether it be against casteism, for LGBTQIA+ rights, or for environment sustainability. All of this goes on to say that people-oriented democracy can thrive only when the marginalised are given their due spaces.
These women MPs are a source of strength and inspiration for many.