Out of the 42 MPs that West Bengal sends to Parliament, Trinamool Congress offered 17 of its seats to women this year. An analysis by News18 revealed that the All India Trinamool Congress had nine female members, which constitutes 40 per cent of the total number of women in the Parliament - the second highest among all political parties.
Out of these, the most prominent winning members would be Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, who won from Jadavpur and Basirhat constituencies, respectively. However, ever since the two young actors won by a huge margin on May 23, Bengalis, especially the so-called intelligentsia that Bengal boasts of, have been finding it pretty hard to swallow.
Because they're not your "conventional politicians." Rather, they don't look or behave like one. But to be honest, what are politicians supposed to look like? How are they supposed to dress, pray tell?
Ever since their candidature had been announced, the two female actors were subjected to incessant trolling and hatred on the Internet. Mamata Banerjee had handed them the task of fighting from two of the most prestigious constituencies, even though they had no political experience of any sort. Consequently, memes and jokes, mostly crass, flooded social media.
That didn't mellow down when both won with a huge majority from their respective constituencies. For the unaware, Jahan won by a margin of nearly 3.50 lakh votes while Chakraborty won by roughly 2.95 lakh votes - let it be noted that this, by far, is the most impressive as compared to other candidates in Bengal.
The controversy surrounding their win worsened when the two reached Parliament yesterday and posted pictures of themselves posing in front of the building. Both Mimi and Nusrat can be seen impeccably dressed, in western clothes (which seems to have triggered the backlash), and naturally excited to kickstart their political careers.
Of course, that too didn't sit well with Indians and especially Bengalis who seem to have a fixed, stereotypical idea of what MPs look like and clearly, these young women don't fit into the mould.
In fact, some even shared old pictures and videos of the actress in an attempt to demean them.
Wow Wow Wow!!! New MPs from Bengal.. Mimi Chakraborty & Nusrat Jahaan_India is really really progressing ..it’s a welcome relief to see MP’s who are so easy on the eye 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/F4B0EZxkZJ — Ram Gopal Varma (@RGVzoomin) May 26, 2019
Although we can't really tell if Ram Gopal Varma is being sarcastic in this one, we hope you can identify how problematic this tweet is. An MP is a lawmaker, and one's appearance isn't really supposed to have an impact on their ability to promulgate change.
If having prior political experience is the criteria for judging new MP-elects, then why hasn't anyone trolled Gautam Gambhir yet? Gambhir, too, is a celebrity like Mimi and Nusrat and this is the first time he's ventured into politics. But no one has criticised him for his clothing or his appearance yet. Thus, safe to say, shaming on these is always reserved for women, especially women in positions of power.
Why is it so difficult to understand that a woman's abilities is not really inversely proportional to her external appearance?
Take for example, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The Congresswoman became the youngest woman to have been elected last year and knew that her outfits would be used against her. Not paying heed to what haters have to say, AOC has always been at her stylish best and uses her clothes to send out powerful messages.
Here lies the hypocrisy. Indians will support AOC's stance and uphold her as the symbol of women empowerment, but when it comes to their own MPs, the same parameters will be used to bring Nusrat and Mimi down.
There were also some who lashed out at the actors and reminded them that the Parliament wasn't just another film set where they could pose.
Diff between Sanskari & Kusanskari Pic 1: @Tejasvi_Surya anna Pic 2: @mimichakraborty madam this is not Film set to pose like that I wondered how people elected you ♂️ Many many congratulations @Tejasvi_Surya anna All the best for feature Proud to be #BJPian pic.twitter.com/fepZ4DmMbk — shashank Sharma Gonguluri (@shashiiBJP) May 28, 2019
This is exactly how a newly elected MP should NOT behave infront of the parliament. @mimichakraborty , you are a disgrace to the exalted office that you've been elected to. We hope you take note of the seriousness & start acting like an MP. https://t.co/ZfSGqvHJI8 — Ujjwal Pareek (@ujjwalpareek) May 27, 2019
Some even 'slut shamed' the actresses:
Parliament is not place for pornstar — Kishor Majumder (@KishorMajumder8) May 27, 2019
And let's not forget the dutiful citizens who feel they need to keep reminding Mimi what her job is:
The parliament house is not a place for photoshoot. Concentrate on your work — khounish Mazumder (@Khounishmaz) May 28, 2019
Turns out, MPs aren't allowed to have tattoos either.
She has a tattoo? — Paid Media (@MediaPaid) May 28, 2019
Here's what we're trying to say. MPs are answerable to the public, yes, but only if they're not performing their duties or if they're lagging behind in terms of serving their people. Mimi and Nusrat are two adults who have every right to decide what they want to wear and how they want to present themselves at the Parliament. And wait for it, they have been elected. To discredit them simply on grounds of clothing or their activities on social media is not just wrong but also challenges the very authority of women MPs in the Parliament.
Would dressing up 'sanskari' or acting a certain way make them more credible as MPs? Call them out if on their failure to perform their duties, not their dressing sense.