After Monday’s delimitation of the electoral wards and reservation, many parties may have lost their strongholds, but the capabilities of its women leaders may decide which of them gets the upper hand in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections next year.
Of the 227 wards, 50% or 114 seats are reserved for women. But following the redrawn ward boundaries along with reservation, women candidates may get an even greater share from the 75 seats in the general quota. It is on these grounds that the Shiv Sena may do well, sources said. The Sena not only has the best organisational network , it has a tradition of strong women leaders and cadre. It may not find it difficult to select candidates, even if the saffron alliance splits, said sources.
The party is also unlikely to weed out its sitting women corporators even if they have lost their seats in the delimitation.
Forty four of the party’s 75 sitting corporators (60 per cent) are women. It gave 58 % of its tickets to women candidates, of the 135 seats it contested last polls, where for the first time 50% seats were reserved for women. “Sena workers are always seen working for the people. It doesn’t matter that my ward has gone in the delimitation. I have worked for people and will contest from some other ward, which my party will decide,” said Shraddha Jadhav, former mayor of Mumbai, who lost her electoral ward in the delimitation exercise.
The delimitation exercise may have hit all parties, but some women candidates from Sena benefitted. Sena’s group leader in the civic body, Trushna Vishwasrao’s, ward – 178 (post-delimitation), is under the open category, making her eligible to contest. Kishori Pednekar, Sena worker and former standing committee member may have lost her seat to reservation but is confident to contest from a different ward in Worli under open category.
“The change in the dynamics of the alliance will give more women workers the chance to contest,’’ said political analyst Surendra Jondhale. “The Shiv Sena has good presence across the city from which it will benefit. If both parties (Sena and BJP) decide to contest separately, it will give opportunity to more women activists/ and grassroots level workers to contest more seats in the election.”
With Congress-NCP also talking of a split, the scope for more women candidates to enter the fray is also likely to increase.
The BJP, which is keen on contesting all 227 wards, up from the 72 wards contested last polls, is likely to have a tough time finding candidates. But, BJP group leader Manoj Kotak put up a brave face. “We have many women activists in every ward who have worked in the past five years and we will face no problem in fielding candidates. Our party doesn’t have proxy women candidates but only true workers,” said Kotak.