BANGALORE: Do women really control the reins of power? To our pleasant surprise, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahangara Palike (BBMP) has 67 women corporators. What more, last year saw another first, Sharadamma P Ramanjaneya, corporator from Shettyhalli ward, was elected as the Mayor of Bangalore. City Express undertook a reality check to see if the reins of power were indeed held by women, or were they just the poster girls fulfilling the ‘reservation mandate’?
The results were indeed not surprising. When we gave a ‘call’ to the women corporators, some remained unanswered, some were not reachable, a few did manage to answer but in a majority of cases, husbands answered the calls and were ready to answer any questions the media might have asked about the ward. When we called K V Yashoda, the corporator of Chowdeshwari Ward, her husband answered the call and said he not only represented his wife but also the ward. Similarly, when we called Kushaalnagar Corporator, Noor Jahaan, her husband answered and said he will respond even if it was to speak about Women’s Day. However, when we insisted on talking to her, he said she was out of station.
To our surprise, even Mayor Shardamma did not respond to our call and instead her husband responded. When he realised we wanted to speak on women’s empowerment, he asked us to call later.
Similarly, the husbands of the Corporator of Mangammana Palya, Syed Haseena Taj; the Corporator of Manorayanapalya, Foujiya Begum; Corporator of Vishwanatha Nagenahalli, Munirathnamma; and Corporator of Kadugondanahalli, Shaheen Taj, received the calls from City Express. When we insisted, the usual answers were: the corporators were out on a function or out of town, or busy.
In a rare instance, the brother of Seema Kanum, the corporator of Jagajeevan Ramnagar received the call. A personal assistant of Sukanda, the corporator of Hongasandra, informed us at 7 pm, “Madam has gone home now.” Finally when we reached Okalipuram corporator, Queen Elizebeth, her husband said, “She is at Mangalore for the by-election campaign.”
Finally, we decided to call it a day. Any questions on why BBMP women corporators’ personal mobile phones were answered by their husbands only gave us a disturbing insight but a rather loud answer on who holds the ‘reins of power’.
The Corporator of Pulakeshinagar, Abdul Rakeeb Zakir, said, “Today it is not a herculean task for women to come forward and take initiatives in the political arena. However, it will be possible only when the family stops interfering in the day-to-day administration of the ward. They should be given space and freedom to handle and take decisions themselves. It will also help them to understand the gravity of a civic problem and help solve it better.”