Gulmaki becomes first Muslim woman to head Odisha civic body

New Delhi: Gulmaki Dalawzi Habib, a 31-year-old woman from Odisha has created history by becoming the first independent candidate to become the Chairperson of Bhadrak Municipality in Odisha. Significantly, what makes her victory more important is the fact that she defeated his closest rival of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate Samita Mishra by a record 3,256 votes.

Gulmaki Dalawzi’s victory has made her a celebrity as she is constantly in limelight and her name is in newspaper headlines. A big group of camerapersons and videographers from the media are stationed outside her house and office

Gulmaki Dalawzi has done her MBA. Her success is a milestone as it is the first time that a Muslim woman has been elected as the chairperson of a civic body. Bhadrak has a large Muslim population and this time the post was reserved for women.

According to Gulmaki Dalawzi, she met with reservations in the minds of voters during her campaign for a “Muslim woman” candidate. She says people treated her like their daughter no matter which community they belonged to.

Initially, she said she thought her journey would not be smooth as Bhadrak has a history of sectarian tensions.

Although Muslim women have won direct elections for councilors or ward members, this is the first time that a Muslim woman has become the first choice of voters to lead a city.

In Odisha’s electoral history, not a single woman has been elected as MLA. Even the Muslim community is reluctant to send women members to contest elections.

Muhammad Akbar Ali, who was the Chairperson of Kendrapara Municipality for six years from 1984 to 1990, said that after the Odisha government had reserved seats for women in three levels of Panchayati Raj Institutions and civic bodies, Muslim women were allowed to contest elections.

Members of the Muslim community have become cabinet ministers in the state.

Muslims make up less than 3% of Odisha’s population and are under-represented in state politics.

Gulmaki Dalawzi got 28,115 votes, BJD’s Samita Mishra got 24,859 votes, BJP’s Gitanjali Padhyari got 6,787 votes and Congress’ Imbala Acharya got 1,907 votes. Habib’s husband, Jahid Habib, a former councilor of Bhadrak municipality, had joined his wife in campaigning. The couple had launched a big campaign to reach out to a large number of people. Gulmaki said she was confident that her election would contribute to peace, harmony, and development in Bhadrak.

Overall, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) won comfortably in 95 out of 108 local body elections, the results of which were announced on Saturday, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 16 seats in the Congress. Won seven seats, and independents won nine seats.

Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) mayoral candidate BJD Saluchna Das has won with 1,74,562 votes.

She defeated her nearest rival BJP’s Suniti Mand by a margin of 61,143 votes.

Journalist-turned-politician Saluchna Das is the first woman to be elected mayor of the state capital BMC. She joined the BJD in June 2017 after leaving Congress and has been the party’s spokesperson and state commissioner for the disabled.

Source: Awaz The Voice


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