Husbands of elected municipal council members in Madhya Pradesh continue to reduce the women to proxies. In the latest, two BJP leaders — husbands of the chairperson and vice-chairperson — dictated a meeting of the 24-member council in Maihar in Satna district. It was held to discuss the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ drive that marks 75 years of Independence.
BJP-backed Geeta Soni and Sheetal Tamrakar were elected chairperson and vice-chairperson in Maihar. The chairperson’s seat was reserved for OBC women this time.
But Geeta Soni’s husband, Santosh Soni, gave directions at the meeting held at Nagar Palika Hall.
She was present at least.
Sheetal Tamrakar wasn’t. Her husband Nitin Tamrakar took part instead.
The proxy system may remind many of the popular web series ‘Panchayat’ about a village in Uttar Pradesh. It was shot, actually, in Madhya Pradesh.
Elections to local bodies were held in five phases across the state recently. Party symbols aren’t used in these elections, but party allegiance remains a factor.
Barely two weeks earlier, in some towns male family members were seen “taking oath” in place of women elected from council seats.
Many such women are elected thanks to female reservation, which is meant to empower women. Some are put up as proxies as the male family members are unable to contest due to legal or other reasons.
An investigation into the proxy oath was ordered at least at one place, at Gaisabad panchayat in Damoh district. Officials had told reporters that such a swearing-in is against the rules and “strict action will be taken against the guilty after the matter is looked into”.