Nagma's plight: Can Congress be more careful in saving her honour?

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Nagma, the actor-politician who has been fielded by the Congress from Meerut for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, is going through a rough time. Indecent behaviour from her own party legislator, mishandling by an unruly crowd, unwanted approach by a stranger --- the southern actress is facing it all while interacting with the people ahead of the polls.

Who should be more careful about Nagma's security: EC or Congress itself?

The Congress has requested the Election Commission for giving special security to Nagma so that she doesn't face more harrassment. The question arises: Whose responsibility is it in the first place to provide protection to the Congress member? If Nagma's own partyman is misbehaving with her, then what can the EC do? And given Nagma is elected this time, who will the Congress request for special security for her? Is Nagma's case extra-ordinary or is it the ordinary gender culture in the Congress which needs to be looked after?

BJP has a number of women faces, even from the glamour world

If we take the BJP, the other national party, there are a number of women leaders, many also from the glamour world, who are engaged in the task of electioneering. Smriti Irani, Kirron Kher, Hema Malini, Sushma Swaraj, Meenakshi Lekhi, the list is not short. Shaina NC, although not contesting the polls, but is another familiar face of the BJP. We don't get to hear much about the security of these women and on the contrary, each of these women are known for their straight-forward viewpoints. Even some of the most fierce television journalists of India choose the peaceful way while dealing many of these women.

A party with a woman president can't ensure minimum safety for a new member?

To remind the readers, this article is not about the debate on who is sending more women representatives to the parliament for both the national parties are equally backward in this respect. In 2009, the Congress had fielded 43 candidates as against the BJP's 44. Both awful numbers.

In the past, we saw how Mamata Banerjee used to be attacked as a Congress leader

But the point this article is trying to drive home is that why does a newcommer in a old party like Congress has to deal with humiliation in the public everyday and the media extracts a nice juicy story out of those incidents for TRPs? Why is it that a party, which has a woman president and also made a Dalit woman the Speaker of the last Lok Sabha, can't ensure the safety of its own ordinary soldiers sweating it out on the ground?

In the early and mid-1990s, we had seen how Mamata Banerjee, then a Congress leader, was often subjected to police brutality on the roads of Kolkata while she took on a powerful regime almost single-handedly? Senior party leaders like Rajiv Gandhi and Siddhartha Shankar Ray were like mentors to Banerjee but why didn't the party as an organisation shielded her against barbaric attacks?

We saw Congress spokesperson insulting Smriti Irani on television

Even a year ago, we saw a Congress leader describing Smriti Irani in an unparliamentary language. Is this a culture followed in a party which has a glorious past also involving women? (Kadambini Ganguly, a woman who was considered ahead of her time, was one of the six female delegates to the fifth session of the Indian National Congress way back in 1889. And take this, she was a mother of eight children).

Rahul Gandhi admitted the flaws, but can he improve a culture..

May be the Congress is yet to think on the sensitive lines about the women. The party's vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, admitted in a rally in Karnataka in February that men outnumbering women is a reality in the Congress today. "Men are preferred over women while giving tickets for assembly and Lok Sabha elections. This has to change...," he said.

... which even saw his grandmother treated as a "dumb doll"?

But will this culture change in a day? It was years before his birth that the male-dominated Congress leadership had picked his grandmother after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri as the prime minister of the country, thinking that being a "dumb doll", she would never be a threat. History, however, had laughed at those who thought on those lines. But that history doesn't focus much on the mental state of those tried to be on the dictating end and ended up at the receiving end. Today, Nagma's plight brings the focus back on how the Congress treats its women who don't have a political lineage.

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