August 1: Two Women Face The Same Fate

It's all about women empowerment. What a joke! The 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha may not have seen the light of the day yet, but when it comes to victimisation at any level, our mothers and sisters bear the brunt.

August 1, 2016 is such a day when two women politicians have been in the news for facing the wrath of their superiors for reasons only the latter know. Take the cases of Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and AIADMK Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa.

Without delving too much into comparing the statures of these two lawmakers, one thing the first day of August has been explicit in is coercing these two women leaders into writing their own political obituaries.

For Anandiben, it's apparently age that has pushed her into contemplating vacating the coveted post in the home state of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sasikala on the other hand, claims her life is at stake for slapping a DMK MP Tiruchi Siva at the Delhi airport. The leader from Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu has been expelled from her party.

Quite surprisingly, Sasikala had punished Tiruchi for insulting her party supremo J Jayalalithaa. On the contrary, she breaks down on the floor of the Upper House even going to the extent of admitting being slapped by Jayalalithaa. What an irony! Sasikala catches the ire of her leader who herself is a woman.

So, it's been two tales of two women from two different parts of the nation who see themselves at the receiving end and stare at the dusk of their political careers. Dalit bashing in Gujarat, Patidar agitation and the allegation of favouritism (business partners of Anandiben's daughter Anura getting land at a discounted rate in 2010) did the Gujarat CM in.

On the contrary, it's probably, her isolation in AIADMK that furthered queered the pitch for Sasikala. The common ground of grudge for both the leaders would be the way their respective seniors used them and then dumped them looking at the larger picture. Anandiben for all purposes had hardly had enough powers in hand. Going by the autocratic nature of her predecessor Modi bhai and his Man Friday BJP president Amit Shah, even a novice would infer that she was just a puppet in their hands.

On members of a Dalit family being beaten up mercilessly for fabricated charges of 'cow slaughtering' in Una, our PM has preferred to remain silent while he has quite smartly laid the foundation for Anandiben to take to Facebook to express her desire to put in her papers. Interestingly, the land scam denigrating Anandiben happened at a time when Modi was at the helm of affairs in Gujarat.

So, hasn't Anandiben been just a pawn at the end of the day? When Dalits are facing the heat even beyond Gujarat, our Prime Minister chooses to 'ignore' the gravity of the situation and gets selective when it comes to speaking up. And he lets a dedicated soldier of his party to 'indirectly' take the blame for the same on his home soil. Sad!

Sasikala too must be taken aback at the treatment meted out to her by her Amma (Jayalalithaa).  Eyebrows will be raised as to why Jayalalithaa 'kicked aside' a colleague. Is it because she wants to strengthen her position as a disciplinarian? Or is it because she wants to compensate for the mistake of relegating DMK scion MK Stalin into the back rows during her swearing-in-ceremony? It's all about portraying a clean image before the public. The answer will be clear in the days to come.

Going beyond the lanes of gender discrimination, it's unfortunate that the leaders calling the shots don't hesitate to shirk responsibilities and instead pass the buck to the ones reporting to them. For one particular day, it may be a co-incidence that two women have had to succumb to the pressure of their bosses (Sasikala though hasn't resigned yet and requested the Rajya Sabha to take care of her security), but looking at the larger picture, the trend of making scapegoats continues.

On August 1, it's been two women, but in the days to come, there could be many more heads rolling.

The author teaches in the Future Media School, Kolkata.

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