CPM leader and Alappuzha MP AM Arif drew ire for his comment made during a women’s meet at Kayamkulam against UDF candidate Aritha Babu. The video of the meet has gone viral on social media. The video captures Arif saying, “UDF should remember that candidates are fielded to the Kerala Legislative Assembly and not to the Diary Society.” Congress workers in the meantime are up in arms against Arif’s statement and they have demanded action be taken against him.
Aritha, who is the youngest Congress candidate in Kerala, was elected to the Alappuzha district panchayat when she was 21. This 27-year-old dedicated public servant is a dairy farmer. Wayanad MP and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is said to have handpicked her to contest against sitting MLA Prathibha Hari at Kayamkulam. Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi campaigned for her during a roadshow in Kayamkulam.
Meanwhile, Aritha responded that she was a dairy farmer when she contested for the Panchayat election and won the seat. She said that Congress is for the common man and added, “I am the daughter of a dairy farmer and am proud of it.” She also said that Arif’s comments were very hurtful.
It is not new for women in politics to be slandered. A Vijayaraghavan’s remarks against Alathur MP Ramya Haridas in the last Lok Sabha elections had stirred the hornet’s nest. Vijayaraghavan said, “The girl who is contesting from Alathur (referring to Ramya Haridas) after filing nomination first rushed to Pannakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab (IUML supremo) and later to meet PK Kunhalikutty (IUML leader and Malappuram UDF candidate). I don’t know what will happen to her now.” This statement had created controversy as he was making an indirect reference to a sex scandal case, in which Kunhalikutty was an accused, but was later cleared of charges.
Most recently, former Idukki MP and lawyer Joyce George made derogatory remarks against Rahul Gandhi. He reportedly said, “Rahul Gandhi’s programme is such that he will only visit women colleges. He will go there and teach girls to bend. My dear children, please don’t bend and stand in front of him…he is not married.” George was referring to Rahul Gandhi’s visit to St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam. However, Rahul said that such comments were demeaning to women. “It has only revealed his true mentality and I am not ready to respond to such people’s statements,” he said.
Moreover, Vattiyoorkavu MLA VK Prasanth had described his competition — Congress candidate Veena S Nair — as weak which didn’t go down well with others. Vadakara MP and Nemom candidate Muraleedharan told Prasanth that their hypocrisy and sexism couldn’t be tolerated. “Nobody knew about Prasanth before he became Mayor and then MLA. Nobody knew about Arya Rajendran before she became the Thiruvananthapuram Mayor, but no one from Congress called her weak. That’s our culture,” said Muraleedharan.