news Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 05:30

The Karnataka government’s recent order reserving half the seats in the BBMP for women has come with its share of problems as many women councilors have been accused of merely being puppets for the men in their families.The state government recently notified an ordinance which fixed 50% reservation for women in the BBMP council, which was previously 33%. With this, 99 of the 198 wards will be reserved for women candidates in the upcoming elections.About three months ago, The News Minute had called 15 women councillors randomly to check who the real representative was.  Ten of the 15 respondents were male relatives of the women councillor – either the husband, brother or even a brother–in-law.  Read: Hello, this is the councillor's husband. How may I help you?  This situation has elicited criticism from some quarters while others support the move while urging voters to elect candidates who are not stand-ins for their male relatives.Katyayini Chamaraj, executive trustee of CIVIC, an NGO, while welcoming the move by the government, also advised that locals need to exercise caution to weed out proxies."There is no question of going back to 33 percent, this (reservations) is our right. However, the locals must not vote for those candidates that are representatives for their husbands. They must protest and the power entirely lies with the citizens to ensure we have the right representative elected democratically," she said.She recollects an incident when the husband of a women councilor began to attend and preside over ward meetings in place of his wife. Katyayini was forced to approach the commissioner to take action against him after a woman in the audience vouched for him as "he got work done for them".On the contrary, civic activist RK Misra called the the government's move "a farce"."There are some excellent women councillors, I'm all in support for more women leaders. But there are also many women who act as proxies and this hike in reservation is therefore a fraud on democracy," he said.Last year, the Karnataka government had issued orders banning presidents of panchayats and municipalities from carrying official files to their homes in a bid to stop husbands from acting as "proxy" for their elected wives in the local bodies.

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