These men have been attending meetings and issuing instructions in place of their wives
Husbands interfering in the work of women elected representatives, especially at the local-self-governance level, is a common problem across India. In Nagpur city, the “husband nuisance” has grown to such an extent that the municipal administration has been forced to issue an official notice, instructing female corporators to prevent their husbands from interfering with official work.
Out of the 145 corporators in the Nagpur municipal body, 73 are women, most of them representing reserved wards. While this in itself should be seen as a positive development, it has been found that in most cases, the husbands of these corporators are interfering in a big way in the day-to-day functioning of the corporation.
They appear in municipal offices and issue instructions in the elected corporator’s stead, and even threaten employees with dire consequences if they refuse to comply. Recently, at a zonal administrative meeting, it was found that a large number of female corporators were accompanied by their husbands who kept interfering with the proceedings. Individual municipal employees as well as employees' unions have made several complaints against these husbands to the municipal commissioner.
The situation came to a head in the past few months following two incidents. In the first, the husband of corporator Bhagyashree Kantode was found to have attended a meeting headed by city mayor Anil Sole on water issues, and even put his signature in the roster in her stead. In the second incident two months back, corporator and Hanuman Nagar zone president Swati Akhatkar’s husband, Chandrakant, roughed up the Water Works Department junior engineer who caught him selling potable water supplied by NMC to residents outside city limits.
He was arrested, and the then commissioner, Sanjeev Jaiswal, had issued a warning to Akhatkar, following WWD employees' union’s demand that she be sacked. Recently, the employees of WWD boycotted Akhatkar’s swearing-in ceremony as zone president, protesting the incident.
In view of these developments, municipal commissioner Saurav Rao (additional charge) has issued a notice saying that corporators must be present in person to take care of their work, and interference by family members will not be tolerated. This is perhaps the first time in the state that official cognizance has been taken of the burgeoning problem of spousal interference in the work of elected representatives.
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