Women in politics: some prominent faces in the 17th Lok Sabha you should know
The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections saw an unprecedented 78 women being elected to the Parliament. Here are ten of them.
India has sent 78 women lawmakers to the 17th Lok Sabha - the highest ever - and while there are veterans like Sonia Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi, there are also celebrities Hema Malini. The Lower House will also see new faces such as Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty being part of the law-making process this term. Here are some significant faces you should definitely know about.
Ramya Haridas, Alathur, Kerala, INC
Known as the 'little sister of Alathur', 32-year-old Ramya Haridas of the INC secured more than 3.2 lakh votes, beating LDF opponent P.K. Biju with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes. Ramya is Kerala's second Dalit woman MP after Bhargavi Thankappan of the CPI who won the Adoor seat in 1971.
Ramya won the hearts of voters, sharing her story of being the daughter of a daily wage worker, and living in a house donated by the Indra Awaas Yojana (IAY). She added a spin to her election campaign by singing popular songs such as Ninne Kaanan Ennekkalum Chandam Thonnum Kunjipenne.
Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, DMK
Daughter of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, DMK’s Kanimozhi won more than 5.6 lakh votes in Thoothukudi, beating BJP opponent Tamilisai Soundararajan with a margin of over 3.4 lakh votes. Kanimozhi serves as the chief of the DMK’s wing for Art, Literature and Rationalism. She is also the first woman president of the Hindu National Press employees union.
The poet and journalist has organised empowerment programmes for women, people with disabilities, and the transgender community. She also leads DMK's efforts to organise job fairs across rural Tamil Nadu.
Sumalatha, Mandya, Karnataka, Independent Candidate (BJP support)
Actor and independent candidate Sumalatha won more than 7 lakh votes in Mandya, beating JD(S) opponent Nikhil Kumaraswamy with a margin of over 1.2 lakh votes. Sumalatha, who was supported by the BJP, is yet to take a call on whether she will align with the party post victory.
Sumalatha made her acting debut in 1979 at the age of 15 in the Tamil film Thisai Maariya Paravaigal, for which she was named the Best New Face. She was also married to actor and politician Ambareesh. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections marked Sumalatha's entry into politics.
Aparajita Sarangi, Bhubaneswar, Odisha - BJP
Former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi garnered more than 4.8 lakh votes in Bhubaneswar, beating BJD opponent Arup Mohan Patnaik with a margin of just over 238,000 votes. She resigned from her post with the IAS after 25 years of service to join the BJP in 2018.
In an interview with The Print, Aparajita said she decided to get involved with politics because she wanted a "bigger canvass, a bigger platform and a bigger horizon." She also served as the joint secretary of Bhubaneswar’s Ministry of Rural Development between 2006 and 2008.
Agatha K Sangma, Tura, Meghalaya - NPP
Agatha K Sangma won more than 3 lakh votes in Tura, beating INC opponent Mukul Sangma with a margin of over 64,000 votes. The 38-year-old is the daughter of P A Sangma, founder of the NPP.
In 2009, Agatha K Sangma was the youngest union minister in the 15th Lok Sabha, at the age of 29. She was the Minister of State for Rural Development, but resigned from the post during the cabinet reshuffle in October 2012. Agatha is also a lawyer, an environmentalist and an amateur photographer.
Jothimani Sennimalai, Karur, Tamil Nadu - INC
Jothimani of the INC, who has no family background in politics, earned more than 6.9 lakh votes, defeating four-time MP Muniswamy Thambidurai of DMK with a massive margin of over 4.2 lakh votes. The 43-year-old had previously contested from Karur in the 2011 Assembly election, and the 2014 Lok Sabha election, but lost to the DMK candidate both times.
In 1996, at the age of just 22, Jothimani became councillor for the K.Paramathi Panchayat union, and served for two terms between 1996 and 2006. She is also the author of the book "Neer Pirakkum Mun" which compiles her experience as a councillor to bring water to a Dalit-populated locality, as well as her humble background and journey.
Preneet Kaur, Patiala, Punjab, INC
INC candidate 'Maharani' Preneet Kaur, as she is known among the locals, won more than 5.3 lakh votes in Patiala, beating SAD opponent Surjit Singh Rakhra with a margin of over 1.6 lakh votes.
Preneet Kaur is the wife of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and belongs to the Royal Family of Patiala. She began her political career in 1999 when she contested and won a seat in the 13th Lok Sabha, and remained an MP until 2014. Before entering politics, she volunteered with the Indian Red Cross, and also started Sanjeevani, an institute in Patiala for differently abled children.
Poonam Mahajan, Mumbai North-Central, Maharashtra, BJP
BJP candidate Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan, earned more than 4.8 lakh votes in Mumbai North-Central, beating INC opponent Priya Dutt with a margin of over 1.3 lakh votes.
Poonam Mahajan has been serving as the President of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, since December 2016, and is also the Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Animal Welfare Board. Additionally, she mentors Swachhalay, a non-profit organisation working towards cleanliness in India.
Mahua Moitra, Krishnanagar, West Bengal - AITC
Banker-turned-politician Mahua Moitra of the AITC won more than 6.1 lakh votes in Krishnanagar, beating BJP opponent Kalyan Chaubey with a margin of over 632,000 votes.
In 2008, Mahua Moitra quit her position as the vice-president of JP Morgan in London, returned to India and joined politics. Although she made her entry into the field with the INC, she decided to join the AITC in early 2010. In the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, she contested from Karimpur, and won by over 16,000 votes.
Supriya Sule, Baramati, Maharashtra - NCP
Supriya Sule, daughter of NCP President Sharad Pawar, earned more than 6.8 lakh votes in Baramati, beating BJP opponent Kanchan Rahul Kool with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes.
Supriya Sule launched a statewide campaign against female foeticide in 2011, and under her guidance in 2012, the NCP launched the Nationalist Yuvati Congress, a political wing for young girls focussing on women-centric issues. She was also awarded by All Ladies League (ALL) in 2014 for her efforts towards empowering women.
With a record high number of women elected to the 17th Lok Sabha, there is hope the government will approach women-centric issues more efficiently. In the coming five years, we hope these women representatives give the women of India an amplified platform for their voices, and bring about some real change.