Behind every novice woman is a poll-savvy man

BBMP polls: Parties brace up for electoral battle; voters apathy continues

Behind every novice woman  is a poll-savvy man

Reporter: ''Hello, may I speak to madam Savitri?'' (named changed) Call receiver (male voice): ''Yes. Tell me what can I do for you?''

Reporter: No, I want to speak to madam about the BBMP elections.”

Receiver: “Yes, please tell me, sir. I am her husband. What information you want?”
Husbands are de facto candidates in most of the wards reserved for women in the upcoming elections. Right from receiving phone calls to running the election campaign, husbands call the shots. And the husband automatically becomes a de facto corporator too if the wife is elected.

When Deccan Herald tried to contact five women candidates on their cell phones on Saturday, it was their husbands who received the calls. So much so that many of them refused to allow their wives, official candidates, to speak and insisted that they will answer all questions on the candidates’ behalf.

This is true with all three major political parties -- the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S). So far, the BJP has announced names of 154 candidates and the JD(S) has announced for all 198 wards. The Congress is yet to release the list.

Though 33 per cent reservation for women in urban local bodies, including the city corporation of Bangalore, has been in force since 1995, men continue to call the shots. The respective party workers or local leaders lobby to secure tickets to their wives though they have no experience of politics or social service.

This, in turn, deprives opportunities to the genuine women leaders who aspire to be corporators. Leaders of all three political parties off the record agree that genuine women leaders are not getting tickets. “Hardly eight to 10 genuine women leaders get the tickets from each political party. The rest of them will go to the ‘remote controlled’ women.

It is a mockery of the 33 per cent reservation policy,” a senior leader stated. The erstwhile BMP councils stand a witness to how husbands remote controlled their wives and were de facto corporators. Many of these men even used to sit in officers’ gallery of the erstwhile BMP council and attend standing committee meetings along with their corporator-wives. A husband of a woman standing committee chairman, had once signed an official document on behalf of his wife, leading to a controversy.

“There are a plenty of women leaders. Political parties should identify them and encourage them to enter politics by issuing them tickets. That is the true spirit of 33 per cent reservation policy. Instead, men continue to control everything by fielding their wives. They do not allow their wives to develop leadership qualities either,” explained Mangala Sridhar, a former BJP corporator and the party Vice-President.

JD(S) Bangalore city women’s wing president Asha Devi, who is contesting from Basaveshwaranagar ward, said the practice of issuing tickets to wives of the leaders should stop. “There is no dearth of women leaders in Bangalore. Only that political parties are turning a blind eye on them,” she added.

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