The State Government’s bid to empower women by involving them in decision making process of governance seems to have been derailed in Sambalpur district.
After the Government reserved 50 per cent of seats in rural as well as urban local bodies, women have come forward to file nominations. But it is their male relatives who are calling the shots in the entire election process.
Starting from availing tickets to campaigning and other election activities, either the husbands or other male relatives of the contestants are managing things making voters wonder who is the actual candidate. In Ward numbers 2, 4, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27 of Sambalpur municipality, husbands of the women councillors act on their behalf. After the election, people rarely see the women councillors in any public platform. They remain present only at municipal council meetings to put their signatures.
Sources said in most cases, the male dominance starts from the process of selection of candidates. The husbands or sons of women candidates lobby for tickets. In many cases, there is hardly any interaction between women candidates and party leaders.
Officially, Ward no 2 is represented by Rashmita Acharya, Ward 4 by Ditptimayee Barik, Ward 20 by Anita Meher, Ward 22 by Shakuntala Satnami, Ward 22 by Lakshmi Bhoi, Ward 26 by Nitu Sahu and Ward 27 by Suryakanti Nayak. But these councillors are hardly found in the Municipality office or in their wards. While Rashmita, Diptimayee, Lakshmi, Nitu and Suryakanti are represented by their husbands Jaga Acharya, Suryanarayan Barik, Dilip Bhoi, Santosh Sahu and Umesh Nayak respectively, two other Councillors Anita and Shakuntala are represented by their brothers-in-law Chandra Meher and Banmali Satnami respectively.
This time, Wards 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 22 of the total 29 Wards in the municipality are reserved for general caste women, Wards 2, 5, 13, 14 for backward class women, Wards 17 and 26 for SC women while Wards 27 and 29 are reserved for ST women.