Despite belonging to the ‘other backward classes’ category, Shubha Raul (44), former mayor and Shiv Sena corporator from Dahisar, fought the 2007 civic elections in the general category.
But the mayor post was reserved for a woman candidate from this class, so that gave Raul an edge over others in bagging the post. An ayurvedic doctor, Raul joined the Sena in 1998.
As mayor, Raul supported important decisions, such as converting the Deonar and Gorai dumping grounds into green hills, closing hookah bars, and floated the concept of having eco-friendly Ganesh idols, even though her party opposed it. She also brought in the concept of “gender-budgeting.” Excerpts from an interview with Sayli Udas Mankikar:
Q: What do you think of the proposal to reserve 50 per cent seats in local bodies for women?
A: The move is extremely positive and will usher in a sea change in the way the civic body functions. I firmly believe that women have an inherent ability to work efficiently and that will surely be reflected when this change takes place. Many women who are working at the grassroots will get an opportunity.
Reservation gives you a right to equal opportunities, which can put you on a different level, which happened when I became mayor. But one has to build on the opportunity that is given to you.
Q: What are the immediate changes one will see after this move?
A: The direct changes will get reflected in the civic budget; there will clearly be gender- budgeting, with issues such as water supply, sanitation, environment, women and child security, highlighted, among others. Weaker sections will get more attention.
Q: Many people argue that the policy will rise to proxy candidates.
A: In some cases it may. But today, women have understood their importance in governance.