M A I N   N E W S

CMs yes, but not many women in Assemblies
nThe number of women in TN Assembly down to 17
nIn WB House, just two more women over 2006
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
The state Assembly elections, results of which were declared on Friday, may have thrown up two more women as chief ministers, but not too many women have been elected to the Legislative Assemblies of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The number has actually declined in Tamil Nadu since 2006, when the last Assembly election was held, while the number of women legislators registered a marginal increase in West Bengal.

Seventeen women have been elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly this time, five fewer than last time. In West Bengal, the number of women legislators has gone up by two to 37. Not surprisingly, most of them are from the AIADMK (12) and the All-India Trinamool Congress (24).

Even as Jayalalithaa prepares to call on the Governor on Sunday to stake her claim to form the government, a procedural formality, Mamata Banerjee, who completed the formality on Friday evening itself, has called a meeting of the legislature party, which is likely to elect her the leader tomorrow. She has indicated her desire to retain the Railway portfolio at the Centre for her party, on the plea that this is the only Cabinet berth the party has.

Even as the Model Code of Conduct was withdrawn by the Election Commission, sporadic post-poll violence was reported from Kerala and West Bengal. While a CPM activist was allegedly shot dead in Kerala by a Congress worker, members belonging to the students’ front of the Trinamool Congress were beaten up by police in Burdwan when the employees of a college objected to their celebrating the party’s electoral victory.

The Congress appeared divided on the issue of joining the government in West Bengal. While the Trinamool Congress has mustered a majority on its own, a magnanimous Mamata Banerjee has invited the Congress, which has doubled its strength in the Assembly to 42, two more seats than the 40 won by the CPI(M), and the SUCI, which has won two seats, to join the ministry. While a section of the Congress is keen to do so, arguing that since the Trinamool Congress is a partner in UPA II at the Centre the Congress too should be a partner in the state. The other section is in favour of exercising restraint. They feel it would be unwise for the Congress to join the government because of the overwhelming majority secured by Trinamool Congress on its own.

Similar doubts have surfaced in Tamil Nadu as well, where the AIADMK has secured majority on its own but would like to include smaller parties of the alliance in the government.

In Kerala, the results have strengthened the position of the outgoing Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan within the CPM, which had toyed with the idea of dumping him before the election. But after he single-handedly saved party the blushes, and after indicating his readiness to lead the opposition in the Assembly, it is highly unlikely that he would be asked not to shoulder the responsibility.

A far more onerous task awaits the victorious UDF which will struggle to form the government since out of its 72 MLAs, as many as 29 are from the Muslim league and the Kerala Congress (M), both of which obviously want their pound of flesh.





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