7 out of 9 Kerala women candidates upped votes in LS polls, BJP shines

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Among the 74 women MPs in the 18th Lok Sabha, Kerala may have failed to send a single woman MP. A dismal result from a state where women voters outnumbered male counterparts by 8.27 lakhs. Figures, however, show that majority of women candidates in Kerala fared much better this time than the candidates of respective parties in respective constituencies in 2019, reinforcing the need for more women participation in electoral politics.

The vote share rose phenomenally in two constituencies — Alathur and Alappuzha. In terms of absolute numbers, one woman candidate recorded additional votes above 1 lakh as compared to 2019 (1,11,919 by Sobha Surendran in Alappuzha ), another candidate nearly touched 1 lakh (T N Sarasu in Alathur with 98,393 votes), three candidates raked in additional votes ranging between 12,000-44,000.

Of the nine women candidates, only two recorded a dip — both in vote share and absolute number of votes (Ramya Haridas in Alathur and KJ Shine in Ernakulam). NDA, which fielded five women candidates, put on a stellar show. Sobha Surendran recorded the highest increase in vote share by 11.08 percentage points followed by T N Sarasu who recorded an increase of 10.16 percentage points.

Even in some of the most unlikely constituencies, NDA candidates, who took on formidable contestants from the LDF and the UDF, recorded a rise in vote share. Nivedida Subramanian, NDA candidate in Ponnani, a Muslim-majority region known for its opposition to the saffron party due to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), increased the tally by 14,195 votes, raising the vote share to 12.16 per cent, an increase of 1.29 percentage points.

Sangeetha Vishwanathan, BDJS candidate in Idukki, managed to increase her vote share, while her rivals from Congress and the Left witnessed a decline. She secured 10.86 per cent vote share (91,323 votes) in this election, an increase by 2.31 percentage points from 2019.

In contrast, Dean Kuriakose of Congress and Joice George of CPM saw their vote share drop by 2.78 percentage points and 0.08 percentage points respectively.

In Alappuzha, the margin of vote share between CPM candidate and the sitting MP AM Ariff and Sobha Surendran was just 3.91 percentage points. The votes pocketed by Sobha dealt a lethal blow to CPM’s prospects in the constituency. Sobha marked a strong presence with a notable increase in BJP’s vote share in the constituency from 17.22 per cent to 28.3 per cent.

In Alappuzha, the margin of vote share between CPM candidate and the sitting MP AM Ariff and Sobha Surendran was just 3.91 percentage points. Photo: Sobha Surendran/ Instagram.


Nivedida, who contested from Ponnani, said that a non-Muslim woman candidate stepping forward in such a constituency (Ponnani) symbolised women’s empowerment and resilience. “Many have questioned why I contested from a constituency like Ponnani. Rama Teacher (BJP candidate in Ponnani in the 2019 LS poll) also saw a significant rise in the party vote share in the previous election, indicating that voters reward women who engage actively and boldly in politics. What we advocated was the politics of development without discrimination,” Nivedida said.

She asserts that women candidates should be evaluated based on their merit and commitment beyond mere political affiliations. In both 2019 and 2024, the BJP fielded women candidates in Ponnani, notably from outside the minority group in contrast to the Muslim candidates of UDF and CPM and still recorded a nominal rise in vote share.

Nivedida Subramanian, NDA candidate in Ponnani, increased the tally by 14,195 votes, raising the vote share to 12.16 per cent, an increase of 1.29 percentage points. Photo: Nivedida Subramanian/ Facebook


T N Sarasu, who registered a stunning rise in vote share in Alathur seat, said that her vocal stance against the co-operative bank scam resonated with voters. She had made headlines for her spirited confrontations with the Left students union during her professional life.

Sarasu noted that since her retirement as a college principal, she has been actively working with the BJP. She recalled a pivotal moment when Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally contacted her to inform about her candidature in Alathur.

Sangeetha Vishwanathan, who had contested as BDJS candidate in Idukki in assembly elections in 2021, maintained strong ties with the region despite her loss. In the recent elections, she was able to raise her vote share.

“Despite not being a native of Idukki district, I successfully boosted vote share. As a Thrissur native, campaigning in Idukki posed challenges,” she said. Currently overseeing Idukki district BDJS affairs, she dedicates weekends and holidays to local organisational and political activities in Idukki.

She also highlighted the growing acceptance of women in governance, expressing optimism for future progress. Sangeetha emphasised a gender-neutral approach to candidate evaluation based on competence. “Voters are increasingly receptive to capable leaders, regardless of gender,” she said.

ML Ashwini, who contested from Kasaragod, significantly boosted the BJP’s vote share from 16 per cent in 2019 to 19.73 per cent in this election, marking a notable increase of 3.73 percentage points. Her candidacy and increase in vote share in Kasaragod constituency underscored the BJP’s competitive edge in the region.

ML Ashwini, who contested from Kasaragod, significantly boosted the BJP’s vote share from 16 per cent in 2019 to 19.73 per cent in this election. Photo: ML Ashwini/ Instagram


As for the UDF and the LDF, only Annie Raja, the CPI candidate in Wayanad, succeeded in increasing the vote share. Although K K Shailaja marginally increased her CPM’s overall votes being polled in Vatakara, she did not improve the vote share.

Annie Raja’s candidacy along with a high voltage campaign by BJP’s K Surendran in Wayanad had an impact on the anticipated vote share of Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi’s vote share dropped to 59.69 per cent from 64.6 per cent while both BJP and CPI increased the vote share.

In Vadakara, even though Shailaja earned 4,43,022 votes in total, more than 930 votes which CPM’s P Jayarajan polled in 2019 elections, the party vote share saw a dip of 2.09 percentage points.

The biggest loss among women candidates was recorded in Alathur; where Ramya Haridas lost over 1.5 lakh votes than what she had managed in 2019. Her total vote share dropped by 13.74 percentage points.

Annie Raja, the CPI candidate in Wayanad, succeeded in increasing the vote share of the party. Photo: Annie Raja/ Facebook


In her debut parliamentary election, CPM’s KJ Shine, a teacher by profession, also didn’t add to the party’s vote share in Ernakulam. Shine got only 2,31,932 votes in 2024, marking a 7.83 per cent decrease. Political observers say that improved performance of women candidates gives an added reason to field them in seats with high winnability factor.

In the current 18th Lok Sabha, the BJP holds the highest number with 31 women MPs, followed by Congress with 13. The All India Trinamool Congress has 11 women MPs, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) has five, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has three, and the Lok Jan Shakti Party-Ram Vilas ( LJPRV ) and Janata Dal (United) (JDU) each has two women MPs. Seven other parties have one woman MP each.

Although K K Shailaja marginally increased her CPM’s overall votes being polled in Vadakara, she did not improve the vote share. Photo: Annie Raja/ Facebook




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