Women candidates may outnumber Men in Shimla Municipal Elections

The Shimla Municipal Corporation’s oldest municipality in the Country is going to poll on May 2 in 34 MC wards,  likely to have more women candidates as out of 34 wards 17 are already reserved for women and SC women candidates.

It is unprecedented that currently there is no elected local self-government and the administrator was serving as the head of Shimla MC for the last eight months. 

Delimitation was also held before the 2017 SMC Election as the number of wards increased from 21 to 34. The SMC Election was scheduled for June 2022 it was another delimitation of increasing the number of wards from 34 to 41 which got challenged in court.  The creation of seven new wards in 2022 has been challenged in the Himachal Pradesh High Court as two petitions challenging delimitation of Summerhill, Boileauganj and Chakkar and Nabha and Toutikandi wards were still pending.

The election was deferred almost seven months but Soon after taking over the new government in December 2022, it took a U-turn and the number of wards was reduced to 34 through ordinance and Election was announced on April 1.

In previous MCs including Shimla Mayor total of 17 wards were reserved where sitting counsellors were women. According to the earlier roaster, many BJP and Congresswoman candidates decided to be put in the fray again however on March 23 suddenly new roaster was declared where all the previous reserved wards nade unreserved. 

Implementing a new roaster now according to the demographic profile of the ward population of women and reserved declared reserved. Which announced that 14 wards are reserved for women.  Apart from this, six wards are reserved for Scheduled Castes.  Out of this, three will be reserved for Scheduled Caste women.  14 wards will remain unreserved. 

 With the new roster, the dream of many outgoing councillors to contest again from their ward has been spoiled.  But BJP which has lost the Assembly Election already have shortlisted a number of former woman counsellors to put in the fray again. Few of them are being included from BJP and CPM but now with changing roasters it is very difficult to put them out of the race. 

Similarly, the number of women counsellors of the Congress party also were aspirants as per the old roster most likely to be in the race. In Bharari, Summerhill, Boileauganj, Jakhu, Banmore, Engineghar, Upper Dhalli, Shanti Vihar, Bhatthakufer, Sangti, Chhota Shimla, Kangnadhar, Patyog and Kanlog wards have become unreserved. In the last election, this ward was reserved for women candidates. 

Sitting woman counsellors of both parties may fight for a second term as being potential and sitting counsellors could defeat an open new candidate.

 However, this time male candidates likely to be able to contest from these wards may not be put in the fray as many outgoing women councillors from these wards were preparing to contest the elections again.

Do women candidates get a chance or not will depend on the party as Male contenders of both parties are also ready to contest the elections in these wards. 

If consensus did not occur in both parties to keep former woman counsellors out of the fray there may be a larger number of rebels in the Election.

Currently, BJP and Congress are holding 24×7 meetings to keep the woman rebels out fray but despite burning, midnight lamp aspirants are keen to fight as independent and may be approached by the opposite party.

There is dissension in both parties and many are upset by the sudden change in the roaster as many aspirants are unlikely to be able to fight due to the ward being unreserved.

 The chance of putting a woman candidate in the wards also matter the public exposure of the candidate, therefore, women candidate have more of a chance to enter the electoral battle again.

In the last election, the unreserved Ruldubhatta, Kaithu, Tutu, Majyath, Kachchighati, Tutikandi, Rambazar, Lower Bazar, Sanjauli Chowk, Lower Dhali, Malyana, Pantaghati, Kasumpti and New Shimla wards have been reserved for women. 

In these wards, many male candidates are preparing and aspiring to fight for years according to the previous roaster. Their expectations were dashed with the reservation of wards. CPI(M) candidate Vajinder Mehra was one of them. He lost the previous Election.

BJP has challenged the decreasing the number of wards from 41 to 34 in the Himachal Pradesh High Court but the court did not stay the Election process and now a verdict was reserved by the court. 

BJP, Congress and CPM are in search of new faces in the newly reserved wards and due to its green signal to many women to be in the fray on the open wards likely that compared to 17 women wards number of woman candidates maybe 25 to 26 which would be two third of total counsellor. 

Kamal Soni voters of Kathu ward say that SMC Election the woman dominated Election by default. Nandi Ram Thakur electoral of Totu wards told us that this election is combat between women only. Mast Ram Sharma of Majyat ward said that Congress announced Election but they never realised that following the new rules and adopting the composition of new wards make it woman-centric.

Does Shimla have more women, voters answer is no but since 50 pc reservation for women in urban local bodies and Panchayat Raj Institutions present a different electoral picture in the state capital.

In the previous MC BJP wrestled MC from CPI(M) in an indirect Mayor poll in 2017 but now it seems that the fight is likely to be between Congress and BJP this time. Congress has declared Education Minister Rohit Thakur and BJP former minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary as campaign committee in-charge for the Shimla MC poll. 

There will be 149 polling stations in the Election polling would be held on May 2 and the counting of votes and results would be declared on May 4.

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