BENGALURU: Leeladevi R Prasad (82), former minister and Bengaluru’s first woman councillor, was given a ticket to contest the Bengaluru City Corporation election when the party was unable to resolve the conflict between two male candidates. That is how she entered politics at the age of 22.
Leeladevi was addressing women BBMP councillors at a workshop titled ‘Women Leaders for a Better Tomorrow’ organised by Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC) on Monday.
Originally from North Karnataka, Leeladevi came to the city in 1953 after marriage. “When the corporation election was declared in 1954, I was made to contest at the Kashi temple ward near Cottonpet. I went for the campaigns wearing pigtails and a khadi saree. After three days, my opponents had withdrawn and I was elected unopposed,” she said.
The three-time councillor said: “A corporation bus would pick us up at 7.30 am and we were dropped back later in the same vehicle. The then chief minister of Mysuru State B D Jatti was close to my father. Along with 40 councillors, I went to meet him to request bus passes. He turned us down and said we must walk,” she recalled.
At a time when there was no education department in the Corporation, she was made the chairperson of the Education Committee. “The same year, the Corporation started a nursery school,” she said.
Later, when she became the Health Committee chairperson, she had commissioned a mobile van that would warn people against dirty surroundings.
“I had to face the wrath of women in the area,” Leeladevi said.
She recalled the time when she went to the Corporation — disguised as an ayah and carrying a child — and asked for milk. When they refused to help her, she suspended them on the spot.
Women in politics have always had it tough, Leeladevi said. “When Indiramma was an MLA during Ramakrishna Hegde’s tenure, she fought for 33 per cent reservation for women. Her male colleagues asked if they should sit at home.”