Shyama Kumari Devi with her granddaughter in-law Chanda Devi, a ward commissioner aspirant, at the district collectorate in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Chanda Devi ensured an all-women show for herself while filing her nomination for the coming Ranchi Municipal Corporation elections on Friday.
If nonagenarian Shyama Kumari Devi travelled 15 km from their home in Jagannathpur to support her granddaughter in-law, six other women representing various self-help groups joined in to celebrate Chanda’s (30) moment in the sun.
“Had I been younger, I would have fought the election myself,” said the sprightly Dadimaa. “But, as I am not very lucky, I would like to see my granddaughter in-law elected as ward commissioner.”
Chanda’s supporters have made her fight their own. “Each self-help group has 15-20 members. Let our leader get herself an election symbol and we will campaign for her. Our men can stay at home,” said Kanti Singh, one of her more vocal fans.
Bindu Singh Munda joined in to say that their mission was about women’s empowerment.
“We teach women not to hide behind ghunghats and remain confined to kitchens. This election has given us an opportunity to follow our own teaching,” she said.
This time, 50 per cent of seats in civic bodies, including that of Ranchi corporation, have been reserved for women. But, they are also free to contest from other seats that aren’t reserved.
No wonder, there was a large number of women at the district collectorate on Friday, the third day of nominations. At one point of time, they appeared to outnumber men.
As many as 18 candidates filed their nominations to contest for ward commissioners post.
Of them, as many as 10 were women. Several other women, all ward commissioner aspirants, collected forms, too.
Some even began canvassing. With folded hands, they appealed for votes from the menfolk gathered nearby. Others touched the feet of the elderly to seek their blessings. Some even had their supporters garland them with much fanfare.
“I have more women willing to help with campaigning than men. But, I will only take the help of women,” said Sunita Kachchap (25), a ward commissioner aspirant from ward 54 (Hatia).
Sobha Devi (35), who filed her nomination to contest from ward 51 (Doranda), also spoke out like an activist. “Political empowerment of the fairer sex is the need of the hour. These elections will ensure that,” she said.