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Congress’ Remya Haridas Becomes First Dalit Woman MP From Kerala in Nearly 50 Years

Daughter of a daily-wage labourer, she defeated the incumbent LDF MP from Alathur by 1.58 lakh votes.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Remya Haridas has become the second Dalit woman MP ever to be elected from Kerala, after she defeated the two-time incumbent LDF MP PK Biju from Alathur constituency by a landslide 1,58,968 votes on Thursday, May 23.

Neethu Joseph reporting for The News Minute (TNM) wrote that it had taken the state 48 years to elect a woman Dalit after it elected the CPI’s Bhargavi Thankappan from Adoor constituency in 1971.

After her victory, Remya reportedly said, “This is for the people of Alathur… I thank the voters… because it is they who took up my campaigning and turned things around as it is now. I am indebted to the people of Alathur and will be with them as their representative.”

She then recited a poem, which has become a signature move for the 32-year-old candidate.

Remya was mocked and faced sexist comments from the left front who dismissed her image as a casual girl-next-door. Senior communist leader A Vijayaraghavan had also faced severe backlash after he made offensive and derogatory comments against her.

Humble Beginnings:

Remya is from a modest family in Kozhikode district. Her father worked as a daily-wage labourer while her mother was a tailor.

“I come from a very humble background. So I know what the needs and aspirations of the people are and I will be with the people of Alathur if I win,” she reportedly said at one of her rallies.

She has assets amounting to just Rs 22,816, making her an exception in the crowded field of wealthy 2019 Lok Sabha candidates.

Remya dedicated two decades to Congress. She was associated with Congress’ student outfit Kerala Students Union and was chief of a municipality in Kozhikode district. She was handpicked by Congress President Rahul Gandhi in 2011.

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Remya’s candidature came as a surprise even to her. At the time of the announcement she was the Block Panchayat President of Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode district, but she resigned from the post a week after the April 23 election, confident that she would win.

Heat of the Elections:

A Satish reporting for The New Indian Express wrote that despite her late campaign start, she used a humanistic approach to endear herself to the common people. She entered houses hugged the women and spoke of issues that mattered.

As her political rival PK Biju was finding it difficult to ward off charges of absenteeism, Remya had said that she would “Not to be a part-time MP, but a full-time one.”

As the dust settles around the 2019 Lok Sabha election results it seems Remya’s connection with her constituents coupled with the Congress’ rising tide in the red state reflected in her outstanding victory.

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