Until 2000, Prameela Sasidharan, now 51, had never planned to join electoral politics. Fifteen years after she did, she finds herself making history as the first BJP member ever to head an urban municipal body in Kerala.
She had a choice of parties in 2000, when Puthoor division of Palakkad municipality became reserved for women. She comes from a Congress family but chose not to accept its ticket or the one offered by the CPM. Now that the post of Palakkad municipal council chief too became reserved for women, the BJP elected Sasidharan its chairperson Wednesday. The party has already emerged as the single largest in Palakkad municipality, the first urban governing body in Kerala that it is going to rule.
“In 2000, women reservation had sent political parties searching for a local woman,” said Sasidharan, a former insurance agent. “The Congress, the CPM the and BJP had then approached me. Although my parents have been traditionally loyal to Congress, I decided to join BJP at the behest of my husband.”
In the next civic polls in 2005, she opted for a general seat and won. She changed constituencies after every election, but luck remained with her. Over the last 15 years, she saw the BJP gaining strength in the municipal area. “When I contested in 2000, the party won only 15 seats. This increased to 17 in 2005 but came down to 15 in 2010. This time, the BJP has won 24 seats out of 52 in the municipality. We have emerged much stronger in a triangular contest,’’ she said.
A member of the upper caste Hindu Nair community, Sasidharan said Palakkad would become the showpiece civic body of the BJP. The party has high stakes in municipal governance since assembly elections are due in April, she said.
“By initiating development schemes, we will reach out to more people. The party and the municipal council have to work together to put up a fight in the assembly elections,” she said.