Embracing change: Ranchi Municipal Corporation
They were men with a mission and rode the popularity wave as Ranchi’s choicest civic leaders. But this time, they can’t contest the elections, thanks to a gender bender.
Meet the six male ward commissioners of Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) who loved their work and took keen interest in civic affairs, but will now have to relinquish their hot seats to women candidates to honour a new reservation fiat. While some enjoy the alternative to bring their spouses into the fray, others aren’t that lucky.
“I am ready to promote women leaders. Whoever wins from my ward will get every help she may seek from me,” said A.S. Deol, a ward commissioner from Morabadi.
A graduate from Xavier Labour Relations Institute in Jamshedpur, Deol had sprinted up the popularity meter because of his leadership skills. But soon, he will be like a king without a kingdom.
And he is not alone in this predicament. Rajan Verma, the ward commissioner of Kutchery who was instrumental in pushing the Jaipal Singh Stadium revamp plan, is also staring at loss of turf.
“I have no regrets though. I became a ward commissioner with a purpose and I believe I have achieved my target to a great extent,” Verma said. “The urban development department wanted to make commercial use of the stadium. I opposed and people supported me. I am happy to have saved a sports hub,” he added.
The RMC has a total of 55 wards, of which 20 were reserved for women in the last elections. This time, the quota has been increased to 26 to ensure greater gender equality.
Some other ward commissioners are not entirely unfortunate as Deol and Verma. They have female family members willing to step into their shoes.
“A week ago, residents of my ward approached me with the request to pitch my wife as a candidate. I have decided to accept it,” said ward leader Krishna Mohan Singh of Dhurwa. Fielding spouse Suman Devi for the hot seat, Singh is sanguine of her win because of the work he has done in the past five years.
Suresh Sahu, ward commissioner of Samlong and chairman of RMC’s water board, agreed. “People in my ward want my wife to contest the polls because they believe she will do justice to the post I held so long. Though I have not made a decision, I am considering the offer,” he said.
Rajesh Kumar Gupta of Tharpakhna is the only ward commissioner with a doctorate degree. He does not have the privilege of fielding a spouse because he is still single. “So, people want my elder sister Asha to contest. I will help her win the election,” Gupta said.