Chennai: Greater Chennai Corporation has reserved 100 wards for women after the Madras high court quashed its previous order that had allotted more than 50% wards to women. As per the new order, 16 wards have been reserved for scheduled caste (women), 16 for scheduled caste (general) and 84 for women (general).
The highlight, however, was the fact that mayors of all three corporations here — Chennai, Tambaram and Avadi — have been reserved for SCs with Chennai and Tambaram to have their first women mayors.
Dalit activists and political parties have lauded the reservation, especially for Chennai. Villupuram MP and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi’s general secretary D Ravikumar said, “It is a welcome move. It is based on the population and demography data and this is something that we have been fighting for several years. However, to reserve it for a woman candidate is laudable.”
Some former councilors were, however, unhappy about the way seats were reserved, saying several wards in Chennai with low SC population had been reserved. “In West Mambalam, areas that have no SC population have been reserved for SC candidates. We cannot understand the rationale as they haven’t shared the population data with us. Usually, the norm is that wards with higher women voters and higher SC population are reserved for those candidates,” said M Gunasekaran, former AIADMK councillor from Virugambakkam area.
Even in Coimbatore, said S Manimeghalai, former AIADMK councillor, many wards with lower SC population such as Chettiveethi were reserved for SC candidates and wards such as Kamarajapuram with higher SC population have been reserved for a general candidates. “The rationale can only be deemed political,” she said.
DMK officer-bearers and ministers said reserving Chennai and Tambaram for SC women was as per norms and adhered to the party’s ideology. “We always have given deputy secretary posts to women in our party and we have several strong women candidates. As far as reservation is concerned, our party has always voiced the concerns of the SC communities and also supported the Mandal Commission. We want women to lead governance,” said Ma Subramanian, health minister and former Chennai mayor.