news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N| The News Minute| November 19, 2014| 18.47 pm IST If it were any other context, the manner in which these men took care of their wives would have been admirable. But when the husband of a BBMP councillor answers his wife’s phone, one begins who wonder about who elected him to be his wife’s representative. While trying to obtain a response for a story from a councillor who happened to be a woman, this reporter found that her husband answered the phone and insisted that he would answer the queries. To see if this constituted a larger trend, The News Minute called up some more Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) councillors. Although the sample was small – just 15 out of 68 women councillors – there does appear to be a trend. The BBMP has 198 wards with 68 women councillors, out of which 67 were elected from the constituencies reserved for women, that's approximately 33% of the total strength. Just one woman was elected from a general seat.On its official website the BBMP has a list of all the wards, their respective councillors and their phone numbers. The News Minute called 15 women councillors at random to find that 10 of the phone numbers provided for the councillors were being answered by their husbands, brothers and even a brother-in-law! Only two women answered their phone and the rest were busy, switched off or was a wrong number. Despite repeated requests to speak to the councillors, the respondents (mostly their husbands) insisted that we speak to them. “No madam, you speak to me, it’s alright. You can discuss it with me. I am her husband, I too look after matters related to the ward,” the husband of councillor Lalitha, Thanisandra ward, responded. There was not the slightest hesitation in admitting that they were using the official number instead of the councillor herself. These were the typical responses we were met with: “The number belongs to her, but I use it.” “The number belongs to me.” “I am her brother-in-law, the phone is with me.” In all the 10 cases, we could not speak to the councillor for varying reasons: either she was in a meeting or she was at home while the husband (who answered the phone) was out: “I have come out for a wedding, please call later,” one man said. Another man’s response was: “I’m in my village attending a function, call me tomorrow.” Whether it is just one instance in which a man answers the number listed as the official number for a woman councillor or 10, or 50, the basic question remains that it was the women who were elected to those posts, not the men. So how did they come to officially represent an elected representative?

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