Mumbai: Political parties have started a study for potential women Corporators who can be fielded on their party tickets for the forthcoming civic elections in February 2017. This step comes immediately after Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) initiated delimitation of 227 Wards in the city. Out of these, 50 percent (114) Wards are now reserved for women.
While speaking to the Free Press Journal, a few party leaders expressed their patriarchal view, saying they were not in favour of selecting women as corporators. Some even referred to them as “nuisance”. State president of Samajwadi Party, Abu Azmi (MLA from the Mumbai suburban district) said, “Women create ‘chaos’ and are not diligent in their work as half of their duties are managed by their male colleagues.”
He went on to elaborate his criticism: “Moreover, in many cases, even their spouses or any other male member from their families handle their work. Often these women Corporators remain absent from the general body meetings; they simply sign and leave the sessions. This always creates trouble for our party.”
Among the few Corporators who are prominently played up in the media are Raes Sheikh from Samajwadi Party, Sandeep Deshpande (Maharashtra Navanirman Sena), Abhishekh Ghosalkar (Shiv Sena) and a few other men. Except for Mayor Snehal Ambekar, women are rarely seen raising important civic issues.
Established parties like the Shiv Sena and the Congress are confident that their women candidates for civic elections will stand a better chance than most other parties. However, their leaders were evasive to comment on the performance of their current women Corporators.
Sanjay Nirupam (city Congress President) said, “Women are sincere and committed to their job. They will do justice to their job if elected Corporators.”
Prodded to name some effective women Corporators, he remained evasive. “However, I cannot reveal the names because the other women Coporators will feel bad if I name only a handful,” said Nirupam. He also told FPJ that he was assessing potential women candidates for ticket allocation, though he refused to divulge any names.
Even Sunil Prabhu (former Mayor from the Shiv Sena and Dindoshi assembly constituency MLA) was noncommittal. “I cannot name the few effective women Corporators because it would hurt the others,” said Prabhu. He continued, “However, it is an easy job for us to select candidates as the party workers have a good network and our party also has a tradition of strong women leaders.”
The criteria that the parties have set to decide potentiality of women Corporators are certain issues facing the city. They will be judged on the basis of whether they have been able to address those issues or not. The issues are: 1. water problems; 2. slum sanitation; 3. nullah and desilting work; 4. height of slums; 5. sewerage; and, 6. roads, amongst others.