Days after she walked the ramp for designer Sanjana Jon, Agra Mayor Anjula Singh Mahaur finds herself in the middle of a raging controversy. But she appears unfazed and says her critics should focus on cleaning up the Taj city instead.
Mahaur says she has nothing to defend or hide as far as her participation in Sunday's fashion event in Delhi - in which Bollywood actors Sushmita Sen and Salman Khan also participated - is concerned.
"The fashion show was meant to pledge my support to the female child and against female foeticide. Those who are protesting should join hands with us to clean up the city," Mahaur told IANS.
"It will be a long-drawn battle against dirt and squalour and a sincere effort to make the city befitting of the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal."
"Every day I will go to a new locality and take count of the safai karamcharis (street cleaners), take the lazy ones to task and also build pressure on the state and central governments to disburse more resources for the cleanliness of the city which has to gear up for the coming Commonwealth Games," Mahaur added.
Her participation in the fashion show provoked Congress party leaders to organise a yagna, or purificatory fire ritual. State Mahila Congress general secretary Shabana Khandelwal, with scores of party workers, conducted a 'buddhi shudh yagna' Tuesday evening.
"The mayor of Agra had been spending more time on her beautification and cosmetisation and less on cleaning up the city. Of late Anjula's mind is more focused on beauty pageants, films and TV anchoring," said Khandelwal.
"The city is literally going to the dogs. Everywhere you see heaps of dirt and filth which attract mosquitoes. It is extremely sad for the city to have a mayor whose sensibilities are killed. Pot-holed roads, open drains and choked sewers are permanent eye sores in a city, which has three world heritage monuments," Shabana added.
Anand Bardhan, the municipal corporation commissioner, said the cleanliness drive was being hampered by a resource crunch. He said the city did not have an adequate number of safai karamcharis. Infrastructural arrangements were also severely restricted.
Against this backdrop, NGOs and political groups have criticised her participation in the fashion show.
But her supporters like BJP Mahila Morcha chief Kundika Sharma have expressed support for Mahaur's stand against female foeticide. BJP member Nirmala Dixit said the mayor walked the ramp for a good cause.
And, of course, the mayor herself is playing it cool.