Nandkumar M Kamat
On February 4, defying demographic disparity of low sex ratio, 973 females to thousand males in population, women voters in Goa created history in polling in elections to any state assembly in India by outnumbering males in 95 percent constituencies (38 out of 40). World democracies please stand up and take note. There were only 19 women candidates in the ring, a sad comment on gender insensitive and patriarchal management of political parties.
On February 4, except Thivim and Santa Cruz assembly constituencies, in rest 38 constituencies women outnumbered male voters. Actually, on electoral roll women voters outnumber males in 33 constituencies. So it was expected that they would logically maintain the lead in polling over their male counterparts in all these 33 segments, but how do we explain higher turnout of women voters in constituencies where males outnumber them? These include Pernem, Poriem, Ponda, Marmagoa, Vasco, Dabolim, Cortalim, Fatorda and Navelim. Why they came out in such big numbers in these constituencies?
Full credit goes to CEO, Goa Kunal, IAS, the dynamic, progressive North Goa collector Neela Mohanan and young and energetic south Goa collector Swapnil Naik for being imaginative and innovative and absolutely gender friendly in the just concluded poll to elect seventh legislative assembly of Goa. Their expert and dedicated handling of the poll would be remembered for a long time. Perhaps they could sense what hardened politicians missed- the role which women voters in Goa would play henceforth in political dynamics of the state.
On electoral roll, 5,64,142 women were registered, 18 thousand more than males. When counting takes place on March 11 it would be found that the lead of 60 thousand women or on average 1,500 per constituency over male voters would seal the fate of many candidates and parties making big noises during the campaign. February 4 belonged to the new women in Goa, those who had already made up their minds and they have resolutely spoken through the ballot. The new woman in Goa is different than the woman of 2002, 2007 or 2012. The new woman is an eminently outgoing, bold, mobile, fearless and self conscious woman, seen smartly using the cell phones, expertly navigating the roads, enjoying outings with friends and family, shopping boldly in markets, sensitive to electronic media, active on social media, fully expressive, dynamic, enterprising, confident and interestingly just a few steps and few years away from taking full control of male dominated politics in Goa.
There is no more rurban continuum left in Goa- except for a small proportion of senior citizens, the older women, cutoff from the tectonic shift which is occurring in India’s highly urbanized state. If politicians have failed to read this tectonic transformation then they would have the psepho-seismograph ready by late afternoon of March 11 when all the results would be declared.
The new woman of Goa knows exactly what’s going on in politics, who is dependable and who is an opportunist. She is willing to listen to all the parties and all the candidates but she has to also think of herself, her family if she shoulders the responsibility of a homemaker, of her job if she is employed in public and private sector and her future employment if she is unemployed.
All the women in Goa are women of India and inherit and cherish all the good values which they are now rewriting with new technological paradigm. They are sick of being lectured and indoctrinated and taken for granted. If polling agents on 1641 are still perplexed about their behavior, the large turnout and the strange silence then the mystery would be solved on March 11. Silent voters or silent voting is a media discovery- an expression popularized by TV anchors. There are no silent voters in Goa because people don’t have a culture of debating their choices. The large turnout of women voters clearly points to a clear verdict for stability and a stable government. Those who are dreaming of rewriting equations of power using opportunity of a hung assembly would be shocked on March 11.
Media largely missed the sub text of PM Modi’s repeated stress on stability and importance of electing a stable government in his short speech on January 28. His point was not just about number of MLAs to be elected but overall qualitative stability which permits the women some space to flourish as compared to situation where alpha male politicians fight other alpha male politicians till both draw blood and chaos and confusion follows the political bloodshed. Women voters have clearly understood the price they all would have to pay if political instability visits Goa again. They have also seen what stable governments could achieve after Goa’s liberation.
The new women voters in Goa crave for more freedom, more security, more reassurance, more space to grow and flourish. They understand that they cannot throw overnight the superload of the patriarchal political system. They still have to run the families, care for the kids, cook meals, nurse the sick members, suffer routine humiliations while males are autonomous and always free to run for any position of power.
But more than half a million women voters of Goa are also quietly plotting the trajectory of and laying down the foundation for another verdict in AD 2022 when the elections to eighth assembly might be held. They have purchased a little time for themselves before they begin to take over the full political process in next five years. First evidence of this strategic shift would be seen in May 2017 polls to 190 village panchayats followed by elections to loksabha in May 2019.
On March 11, Goa would breath easily only because of the strategic voting by the women voters in 38 constituencies. People would be pleased to have a stable government which alone can stabilize the economy and create employment. The women voters would keenly monitor further developments before the spirit of ‘Gulabi Gang’ spreads from Pernem to Polem and Marmagoa to Molem. The saviours of Goa have spoken on February 4 and when they speak in 2022 they would dictate with full force and would not take any dictation. March 11 would show to the world why women in Goa now prefer political stability over everything else.
Women Vote Decisively For Stability
Nandkumar M Kamat