Though the state Cabinet has approved 50% reservation for women in local self-government bodies in the state, activists are wary how this would help in decentralizing power to common women.
They fear this quota would be misused, defeating the purpose for which it was introduced. “If this means replacing a male corporator with his female relative, it would not serve the desired purpose,” said GR Vora, member of Citizen Forum.
There are over 15 female corporators in the existing Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, who are either wives or daughters of former corporators. The side effect of the Cabinet decision would also place at least 20% existing seats in danger. There are 227 corporators, including 91 women in the city and suburbs. Of which, 76 (33%) have been elected from a reserved ward, while remaining women got elected from open wards.
“Often both husbands and wives work for the same political party. Real women activists should get ticket purely on merit,” said Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena spokesperson. In the existing corporation, 5-6 Sena corporators are wives of former corporators.
While Ashish Shelar, Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the corporation claimed that the party does give tickets purely because a candidate is related to a corporator. “BJP is the only political party in the country, which puts reservation in the organization itself. So we get natural activists.”
When told that two women corporators in the city — Rukmini Vitthal Kharatmol and Kokilaben Arvind Parmar — are wives of former corporators, he said, “Both have been associated with the party for quite some time. They are original party activists.”
Vora also suggested that the state should not issue tickets to wives and female blood relatives of existing corporators such as daughters, sisters and daughters-in-law. “If this is not done, the purpose of chief minister’s move would be defeated,” he said.