Muslim Woman Wins Election and Makes History in Odisha, India

The Indian Muslim woman became the head of Bhadrak municipality.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, ODISHA – A new story has been recorded in one of the Indian states, Odisha, regarding the general election for the leadership of Bhadrak Municipality. A Muslim woman, Gulmaki Dalawzi Habib (31) managed to win the vote for the position.

reported from The Hindu, Sunday (27/3/2022), Gulmaki Dalawzi Habib is an independent candidate. He won the election for President of Bhadrak Municipality beating his closest rival Samita Mishra, candidate Biju Janata Dal (BJD), by 3,256 votes.

Habib himself has a master’s degree in business administration, is not active in politics although her husband and in-laws are well known in local political circles. Her husband Sheikh Jahid Habib is the BJDl Vice President of Bhadrak District.

There was a request to nominate someone from a minority community as a candidate for the presidency of the civic body in Bhadrak, where the Muslim community has a large population. Because the position was reserved for women, Ibu Habib became the absolute choice. However, he had to face the wrath of the ruling BJD.

Community tension

Initially, it was thought that Habib’s trip would not go smoothly as Bhadrak has a history of communal tensions. “During the campaign, I found no objection in the minds of voters against Muslim women candidates. People treat me like their daughter no matter what community they are in,” said Ibu Habib, who will soon be sworn in as chairman of the Bhadrak Municipal Corporation.

Although Muslim women have won direct elections as councilors or ward members, this is the first time a Muslim woman has led a city.

“In the history of Odisha’s poll, not a single woman has been elected as an MP. Even the Muslim community is very reluctant to send female members to participate in elections. After the government of Odisha reserved seats for women in the three-tiered panchayati raj institution and civic bodies, Muslim women came forward to contest the elections,” said Mohammed Akbar Ali, who served as the president of the town of Kendrapara for six years from 1984 to 1990.

The Muslim community makes up less than three percent of Odisha’s population. There is little representation of minority communities in state politics, although members of the Muslim community have become state cabinet ministers.

Similarly, journalist-turned-politician Sulochana Das became Bhubaneswar’s first female mayor. Prior to being elected as the first citizen of Bhubaneswar, he served as the Disabled Persons Commissioner.

“I would like to give new impetus to the development initiatives taken in Bhubaneswar. People will certainly be proud to be citizens of the capital,” Das said in a speech after his victory.

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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