“That looks fair on paper. But then the rule should have been applied across the board and should include the Chief Minister as well. If the argument is that the elections were fought under Pinarayi Vijayan’s leadership, and therefore, he could not be changed, then this criterion of popular acceptability should apply to KK Shailaja’s case as well. After all, people had an expectation that she would continue as a minister, and she also got the highest victory margin in election history,” said Dr Nissim Mannathukkaren, professor with the department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University.
“This is nothing but the vicious sidelining of one of the most popular women leaders. What has happened to her is gross injustice,” asserted Dr J Devika, historian and professor at the Centre for Development Studies. “Women in politics in Kerala think that if you shrink beyond visibility, you will survive, but that doesn’t happen. You only get trampled,” she added.
“Even though one cannot compare the two women leaders, when KR Gowriamma walked out of CPI(M), it was as if the ground shook, like a huge tree collapsing. Memories of that crashing will remain vivid. No leader should be like the grass which sways in the wind. It gets plastered on the ground during heavy rains, but when there is sunshine, it is back up. It will survive, but the point is to thrive. Shailaja was someone who looked like she would go places and was popular. People in Kerala are far more ready to accept a woman as the Chief Minister,” pointed out Devika.