Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): At a time when the Lok Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill, Madhya Pradesh and many other states implemented a decade ago 50% quota to women in Panchayati Raj institutions and in urban civic bodies.
Nevertheless, women are just shadow-boxing, since their husbands are taking all important decisions. As for Panchayats, ‘Sarpanch Pati’ has already become part of the political discourse.
The situation, however, is not any better in the urban civic bodies. Of the 17 municipal corporations in the state, nine have women mayors and many of them are wives, daughters or daughters-in-law of prominent male politicians. And the same is true of their key rivals in the polls.
The Nari Vandan Bill (Women’s Reservation Bill) was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The Bill, which provides for 33% reservation in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas to women, has become a topic of discussion. Amrita Yadav, the BJP mayor of Khandwa is the daughter-in-law of former MLA Hukumchand Yadav and the wife of former municipal corporation chairman Amar Yadav. Asha Mishra, who lost to her in the polls, is the daughter-in-law of senior Congress leader Virendra Mishra.
The Sagar mayor Sangeeta Tiwari is the wife of a prominent BJP leader Dr Sushil Tiwari. Congress’s Nidhi Jain, who lost to her, is the wife of former MLA Sunil Jain. The mayor of Burhanpur, Madhuri Patel, is the wife of BJP leader Atul Patel who was the mayor of the town from 2004-2009.
Mayor of Singrauli Rani Agrawal is the daughter-in-law of Ramnivas Agrawal, a BJP leader who was the chairperson of Devsar Janpad Panchayat in the district. The Katni mayor Preeti Suri’s husband Sanjay Suri is also a politician. In Morena, Sharda Patel was elected as Mayor.
Babulal Solanki, the elder brother of her husband, is a former Member of Parliament. Similarly, Shobha Sikarwar, the mayor of Gwalior is the wife of Congress MLA Satish Sikarwar. The Dewas mayor Geeta Agrawal was a housewife till she was fielded as its candidate by the BJP. Her husband Durgesh Agrawal is a BJP leader and a former vice-chairman of Dewas Development Authority. The Bhopal mayor Malti Rai of the BJP is not related to any politician. Vibha Patel, whom she defeated in the elections, however, is the Bhabhi (sister-in-law) of former Congress leader Rajkumar Patel.
‘Do not draw conclusions’
Sarpanch Patis are an exception. There are 23,000 village Panchayats in Madhya Pradesh. Of them, 11,500 have women Sarpanchas. How many of these Panchayats are being run by their husbands? Maybe 50, maybe 100. Not more than that. Let us not draw conclusions on the basis of exceptions. Similarly, some of the mayors or chairpersons of municipal bodies may belong to families of politicians. But their fathers or husbands or fathers-in-law can’t be visible and interfere with their work.
-Girijashankar , senior journalist