Even as the city has seen eight women mayors since 1996, there are only few who contributed to the women’s upliftment and made efforts to make the city a safer place for them.
Former mayor Poonam Sharma’s surprise raids at gambling hot spots or her act of slapping men in public earned her the title of ‘Dabang Mayor’. From driving a tractor to a bike, this 52-year-old remained in the news throughout 2015 for her bold acts.
During her tenure, the police department too feared raids in their area by Sharma. After getting complaints from wives of men who were involved in gambling, Sharma had raided Sector 26 grain market and a gambling spot at Maloya. Her raid led to the suspension of the area SHO.
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Although Sharma’s slapping controversy — once she thrashed one of the gamblers and once the father who came drunk on the cremation of his child — invited criticism from political parties, she is proud of her act. “They say I took law in my hands. If I need to get a person on the right track, I will take law in my hands. That person who is openly breaking the law is roaming free and doesn’t even bother about his wife and children,” said Sharma.
In the first month after she took charge as the mayor, Sharma introduced baby kits. Along with the UT Adviser, she went in colonies to congratulate those who had been blessed with girl children. “Ever since the mayor went in colonies to congratulate women who were blessed with girls, the entire scenario changed. Those women with baby girls walk holding their heads high today,” said Manjula, a resident of Maloya.
Then there was Kamlesh who remained the mayor twice. From a telephone operator to a city mayor, Kamlesh set an example by winning the seat from Ramdarbar. In 1996, Kamlesh was the sole Congress candidate in MC. Before getting into politics, she began with setting up of PCOs at colleges to give facilities to students.
“I remember how she had set up a PCO at our college when there was no such concept. And see she became a city mayor then,” said Ridhima, a student of a Chandigarh college.
Kamlesh went around the city colonies for women’s upliftment. Although she is not a councillor anymore, she runs a programme: ‘Respect women, protect women’.
While Anu Chatrath, a senior advocate who too remained on the coveted post of mayor twice, floated the idea of a women’s helpline or a women’s police station.
“My focus was women’s upliftment and the first thing was safety for them. So I urged the police to have a dedicated helpline or a women police staff only for women,” said Chatrath.