Come February,there will be a major transformation in the civic corridors of power with women outnumbering men in the hitherto male-dominated general body of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). This follows the state government decision to reserve 50 per cent seats for women in civic bodies. It will also have its impact on the prospects of each political party as they are struggling to find women candidates.
The NCP came to power in the civic body after it emerged the largest party in the 2007 polls,ending the Congress dominance. It had joined hands with the saffron combine initially to keep the Congress away from power,but later teamed up with the Congress during the Assembly polls.
The PMC general body has a strength of 144,with 48 seats reserved for women 33 per cent,but now there will be a total of 152 members,of whom at least 76 will be women,as decided by the election commission on the basis of population. The civic polls will be held in panels,two members to be elected from each panel,and this has brought in uncertainty among the established parties to make it to the civic body.
The city has seen women appointed as the Mayor,but in true sense the power will come to women after this civic election when their strength would be more than men in the general body, former Mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale said.
All these factors have opened up the field for aspirants without any political background and have created equal opportunities for all political parties. The Congress without MP Suresh Kalmadi will fight to regain the lost pride and power in city politics while the NCP will make all efforts to get a majority. The saffron combine,on the other hand,is hopeful of making a headway and gaining power after it included the Ramdas Athawale faction of the RPI in its alliance. The MNS also hopes to increase its strength in its second civic polls and play a major role in deciding the rulers.
There are aspirants in the party for all the 152 seats but we would share the seats with the BJP and the RPI in a manner to get the maximum of the alliance candidates elected to the PMC, Shiv Sena leader Nilam Gorhe said.
Holding reins1997 Congress 2002 Congress,NCP 2007 NCP,Shiv Sena,BJP NCP,Congress
Various factors in the coming election will redefine the political situation of the city. The male domination in local politics will be challenged,after an equal number of women get elected to the civic body. It is a welcome step that both men and women will get equal importance in politics. The first priority would definitely be for women from the established families in politics,but the shortage would also provide opportunities to newcomers. The present scene is also likely to give a setback to many established politicians as the dominance of a person in any particular area would not decide the prospect and every aspirant has to depend on the other in the adjoining area in the panel.
The use of money is likely to increase in the elections as the PMC budget has increased manifold. It is up to citizens to be vigilant and careful to ensure that money does not affect their right to elect an efficient candidate. The present scene gives equal opportunity for all and the PMC will have a four-pronged contest with the NCP,Congress,Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI and MNS in the fray. A tough contest is expected as those getting 15 per cent vote would emerge victorious.
Prakash Pawar,political expert and HoD,political science department,Fergusson College.