Music Graduate Strikes the Right Note To Win the Left Stronghold of Alathur for Congress
The only Dalit woman MP from Kerala, Ramya Haridas was born into a family of daily wagers
If you thought Indian politics is all about dynasts and millionaires, think again.
Alathur in Kerala has chosen a Dalit woman born into a family of daily wagers as its representative to the Lower House of Parliament.
The only Dalit woman to represent the state in the Lok Sabha this time, Ramya Haridas is one of the 15 Congress MPs to be elected from Kerala.
A music graduate and political worker, Haridas used her singing skills to the hilt during the campaign. For, her speeches were interspersed with songs, something that seems to have struck a chord with voters.
The Congress fielded her from a Left stronghold. Alathur as a constituency was believed to be just a token fight. However, Ramya ended up trouncing Left strongman P K Biju, the incumbent MP from Alathur.
She also faced sexist remarks during the campaign. Left Democratic Front convener Vijay Raghavan was criticised for making derogatory statements against her at the height of the campaign.
But she went on with her campaign unhindered, speaking to and singing for the electorate.
She also had to face opposition from within the Congress, as many felt that seasoned workers were ignored and Haridas, a newcomer, was fielded.
“There were many in the party who were surprised by the candidature of Haridas. There were moves to scuttle it but finally the central leadership prevailed,” a Youth Congress leader told Asiaville.
However, political observers caution that there are challenges she will face as a member of Parliament. These include not knowing either English or Hindi. She knows only her mother tongue Malayalam, which may make communication in Delhi difficult.
“She is the product of a system that Rahul Gandhi tried to put in place as general secretary in charge of the party frontal organisations. But the process was not consistent. We can certainly see Ramya Haridas as a welcome change. But, in Delhi, she has many disadvantages that can stop leaders like her from acquiring a bigger role. Language is one of them,” political analyst Sunil Gatade said.
Haridas was the elected president of a panchayat before she resigned and filed her nomination for the Lok Sabha polls. She was handpicked by Rahul Gandhi in 2013. Her credentials in public life also include being part of Ekta Parishad movement in Kerala, which pushes the case for tribal rights.
Haridas was chosen as the best public worker in 2007 by the Nehru Yuva Kendra.