With 50 per cent seats in the states municipal corporations now reserved for women,political parties are preparing an all-new poll pitch with a first-ever emphasis on women voters and on grassroots-level women political activists.
While the usual slogans of zero-garbage,concretised roads and 24-hour water supply will continue to find traction,a new recognition of women as 50 per cent of the electorate will find place in election manifestos. From better healthcare amenities to day-care centers for children of working women,innovative ideas are being discussed in meetings of manifesto draft committees.
While Congress minister Varsha Gaikwad has already championed the cause of more toilets along state highways,the NCP womens wing president Vidya Chavan says she is seeking additional toilets for women outside railway stations. Building better toilets inside the stations is the responsibility of the Railways,but the civic body can provide this crucial amenity for working women outside railway stations. The administration has spoken about five-star toilets,but just toilets in good condition will suffice, said Chavan,a four-time corporator and now Member of the Legislative Council. Chavan points out that of the 1.3 crore voters,50 per cent are women.
With 50 per cent of the candidates also now women,they will be able to reach out to female voters with issues that they know will touch a chord.
Also on Chavans wishlist are daycare centers for children of working women. Municipal schools are shutting down and fewer families want their children to attend Marathi-medium schools. What we need are semi-English medium schools with attached day care centers where children of working parents can be looked after.
The NCP,which has conducted a series of programmes in the run-up to polls across the state specifically targetting women voters,is also set to promise improved healthcare facilities in slum areas. Each of the 227 wards must have a well-equipped health center,including a pathology laboratory to tackle the menace of bogus doctors in the slums. Early detection of malaria,chikungunya,dengue,etc. will ensure better treatment and also less load on the big hospitals like KEM and Sion, said Chavan.