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Bengal shows caste and gender equality by choosing Adivasi women in State Cabinet

15 June, 2021 15:16:31
Bengal shows caste and gender equality by choosing Adivasi women in State Cabinet

In the world’s largest democracy, gender equality is still a distant dream. A patriarchal mindset is still evident, and derogatory comments about women in politics are rife on social media, Sexist remarks are regularly directed at women who contest elections, whether about their appearance, clothing or experience. Mamata Banerjee, the only female chief minister of India, was likewise subjected to gendered slurs during the most recent campaigns before the Assembly elections in the state. But nothing could tarnish her image and her popularity was evident when voters put their stamp of approval on the slogan, ‘Bangla taar meyekei chaaye (Bengal seeks its own daughter again), ensuring a landslide victory for the party in the state Assembly for the third consecutive term.

After she became the Chief Minister of West Bengal for the third term, Banerjee inducted three strong, daring female party workers from Jangalmahal  in her Cabinet – Sandhya Rani Tudu, three-times MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) from Manbazar, Purulia, Jyotsna Mandi, MLA of Ranibandh in Bankura and first-time MLA from Jhargram,  Birbaha Hansda. 

The Jangalmahal region, spread across West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura, and Jhargram districts, was a Maoist stronghold before TMC stormed to power in 2011. The region has a sizeable tribal population and has been designated as a backward area since Independence. 

Sandhya Rani Tudu

Sandhya Rani Tudu from Kadlagora village created a record at the recently-concluded Assembly polls after winning Purulia’s Manbazar seat for the third consecutive term. Drawing inspiration from her party leader, the 48-year-old tribal leader aims to work for the betterment of the socio-economic conditions of the tribal population in the state. She has been assigned the post of the Minister of State for Paschimanchal Unnayan Parishad with Independent charge.

Jyotsna Mandi

Jyotsna Mandi is another firebrand Adivasi leader from Heerbandh in Bankura district. She stepped into the political arena in 2016 as TMC candidate for Ranibandh seat in the state Assembly election and defeated well-known CPI(M) candidate Deblina Hembrem by a huge margin. Mandi hails from a family of well-known political leaders. Her grandfather Mokor Tudu was a heavyweight CPI(M) MLA but she chose to join TMC. In the present Cabinet, Mamata Banerjee has assigned her the role of Minister of State, Food and Supplies. After her name was announced, she tweeted a short message that said, women have the power to change the world and the new, empowered girls of Bengal who are coming into their own are the prospective of this country, the Kanyashree girls of the future. 


She adds, “Our very own Didi   has dedicated the party’s sweeping victory in the 2021 state Assembly polls to the Nari-shakti (female power). We are the Nari Shakti and we pledge to fulfill the 10 commitments that Didi announced prior to the polls.” She added, “Women not only take care of their home and hearth but are competent at multi-tasking as well.” 

Birbaha Hansda

The latest to join the TMC party and prove her mettle is a young and prominent actor of Santhali films, Birbaha Hansda. She was given a ticket to contest the 2021 Assembly election from Jhargram and emerged as the undisputed winner. Although she contested election for the first time this year, the feisty lady had been inducted into politics much earlier. Her father, late Naren Hansda was the founder of Jharkhand Party (Naren) where she was an active member. Her mother, Chunibala Hansda was also an MLA. Birbaha has been working with her parents and also as a social worker independently.  Her meteoric rise in the political arena was indicative of her immense popularity. The Chief Minister inducted her in her Cabinet as Minister of State, Forests. 

After her victory, she thanked her voters and said she was overwhelmed by the support given to her. She is full of praise for her leader Mamata Banerjee and says, “She is a phenomenal lady who has risen above the petty politics of religion, caste and creed and has actually moved in the direction of gender equality. She has selected three Adivasi women like us to be a part of her Cabinet.  The country can take a lesson from her.” It is true. No other state or even the Centre has so many women handling portfolios in the ministry as in West Bengal. Banerjee’s move to bring Adivasi women in the forefront not only conveys a positive vibe but also inspires the rest of the country to accommodate people from the minority and ethnic groups in the legislature. Only then will the tenets of the Constitution that ensures equality for all Indians, will come true.   

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