The Iron Lady of Shikaripur

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P. Gowramma, a Scheduled Caste woman who served as a civic worker for the Shikaripur Town Municipal Council, performing cleaning and sanitation work, now has the unique privilege of being the council’s president.

The town has a population of over 40,000, a majority of whom belong to the Scheduled Castes. Since the TMC’s formation in 1949, no SC person has been chosen for the council president’s post. According to the recent reservation announced by the government for top posts in urban local bodies, the president’s post in the Shikaripur TMC was allotted for a female Scheduled Caste candidate. Ms. Gowramma, being the lone member in this category, was elected unanimously on March 17 this year.

Her husband, Ramaiah, two sons and sons-in-law are also employed as civic workers with the TMC. Ms. Gowramma had worked in that same designation for over 20 years, she told The Hindu. However, she had never imagined that she would get the opportunity to get the top seat.

When the 2006 urban local body polls were announced, the 12th ward, where she resides, was reserved for a female SC candidate. The people were impressed by her work and urged her to contest the elections, she recalls, adding that she had been supported in this by her husband and children. After her election to the Shikaripur TMC, she strove to upgrade civic amenities in the locality. “As I had worked for 20 years, I knew what problems the locality had. After I was elected, I initiated a debate at a TMC meeting on this issue.”

Ganganna, a civic worker, said that because of Ms. Gowramma’s efforts, LPG cylinders and gas stoves were provided to families of civic workers using the 22.5 per cent fund reserved for SC, ST welfare. Houses were also found for them under the Ashraya scheme. Ms. Gowramma was elected to the TMC for a second term in 2013. “As the moral code of conduct was enforced when I was elected president, I could not make any independent decisions. Henceforth, I will personally supervise the cleaning work and drinking water supply system in this town,” she said.

She has studied up to the fourth standard, but education had “never become an obstacle. As I have the experience of serving as a civic worker, I know the problems faced by the people, and how the TMC functions.”

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