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39 of 42 women councillors are first-timers in Amritsar MC

Of the 42 women councillors, only three have been active in politics, 39 won due to their active relatives in politics  

punjab Updated: Dec 20, 2017 12:18 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Bharatiya Janata Party,BJP,women councillors
Sandhya Sikka, Jatinder Sonia and Sandhya Sikka(HT Photo)

With the Congress bagging majority of seats in Amritsar, the 85-member municipal corporation (MC) House will have 42 women councillors for the first time. Earlier, there were only 21 women in the 65-member House.

All other women had their kin’s support, who are active in politics nd played a vital role for their victories. But, most of the women councillors are expected to act as puppets in the hands of their husbands or fathers.

This time, the Punjab Cabinet had increased reservation for women in urban local bodies and panchayti raj institutions from the existing 33% to 50%. Due to this, 42 wards had been reserved for women in Amritsar civic polls. Former councillors and famous political leaders of various political parties, who themselves wanted to contest polls, were forced to field their women relatives for infighting, due to reservation.

Out of 42 women councillors, only three — Mamta Dutta and Jatinder Sonia of Congress and Sandheya Sikka of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — have been active in politics.

Dutta is a famous face and is in the race for the mayor’s post also. She is a former independent member of the MC, but lost in 2012 on the Congress ticket. Her nomination as women’s wing chief was supported by Captain Amarinder Singh in May 2016, months ahead of the assembly polls.Dutta, 42, is sister-in-law of former Amritsar mayor Sunil Dutti, who lost the Amritsar East seat in the 2012 assembly polls to the BJP’s Navjot Kaur Sidhu. She won MC election from ward number 11.

Jatinder Sonia, however, is an Amritsar Congress women wing’s president. Sonia has been active in district politics since she took over the reins of her post in August, 2015. Earlier, she was a councillor here.

On the other hand, Sandheya Sikka, who won 2012 election from ward 17, won for the second time from her ward. Sikka may also play a role of leader of opposition if the Congress chooses a woman councillor for the mayor’s post.

Now, the Congress will have 30 women councillors, the SAD-BJP alliance will have 7 and 5 independent women councillors in the MC House. However, Aam Aadmi party (AAP) could not open its account in this mayoral election. In 2012, there were only 65 wards in Amritsar and 21 were reserved for women.

Out of three MCs — Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala — in Punjab, Congress may choose a woman mayor from one of them. Mamta Dutta, who is considered an aide of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh may be one of the strongest contenders for the mayor’s post if the Congress decides to nominate a woman councillor as mayor.

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 12:18 IST