In BBMP, it's 'creamy' women once again

It is laudable that the Council of 198 corporators, who have been elected to the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike), consists of 71 women. Of these, 67 were elected under the 33 per cent reservation. However, a random sampling of the socio-economic background of these women throws up predictable facts.

A trend towards perpetuation of the creamy layer is glaringly visible. Many of these women are wives, daughters, daughters-in-law or close women kin of politicians, who are already well entrenched in the corridors of power. The men happen to control immense wealth, networks, manpower and communication resources that ensures the electoral successes of these women.

Real rulers

Now that these women have succeeded as instruments in entering the portals of power, the patriarchal structures would smoothly take over and ensure that the power remains with the chosen few — as always. A news report in this daily brings out how blatantly the reservation for women has already come to be misused.

It was the husbands of the women corporators who were seen accepting felicitations and communicating their thoughts with the media after their wives were declared successful. Wither women’s empowerment, through reservation?

Who is getting empowered here? Women from any background would find it difficult to field themselves in the Indian political arena. It entails huge finances, physically gruelling election campaigns, security issues, conveyances, publicity, winning strategies that need devious and elaborate schemes, plans and machinations. It is this infrastructure that the politically and financially well entrenched male provides to the women of his family.

Are these women capable or even allowed to take independent decisions favouring women citizens of Bangalore? Does the political empowerment doled out to these women from political families translate to willing, conscious and concerted efforts on their part to visualise, formulate and implement citizen-centric social-development projects?

As is obvious, the electoral success of these 67 women who have availed seats under women’s reservation are just a concession to a little feminine space within the all pervasive masculine spaces of the great Indian patriarchal polity. The conceded space will be what it literally is ‘conceded’ as against  ‘set free or emancipated’.

In the case of the famous power couple Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi of Bihar, her space was conceded willingly, even indulgently but strategically by her husband only so that the political patriarchal domination continues. Rabri Devi was neither empowered nor emancipated in any true sense of the word, thus only ensuring systemic perpetuation of power in the hands of the few.

Though a positive note has been struck by the success of these 71 women corporators, there is need for caution. There is need to constantly collect data and analyse how these beneficiaries of women’s reservations perform. It is rare for any ordinary women with or without reservations to be successful politically for a prolonged period of time without enormous resources at her command.

Despite hundreds of cases of successful women administrators at the grassroots (panchayat) level, it does not translate into national successes. Thus the hunt for educated, capable, efficient women hailing from ordinary background to be fielded by the powers that be may begin only when the creamy layer reaches a saturation point and runs out of women kin as electoral candidates.

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