Iglas assembly constituency in Aligarh district, which goes to the polls with the rest of UP in 2017, is seeing matrimonial offers with a difference. Reserved for scheduled caste (SC) candidates, aspiring politicians are seeking brides who can be put up as candidates in the elections, just so the former can live their political ambitions. One of these hopefuls is Ravinder Singh. "I want to stand for elections on public demand. But Iglas is reserved for SC candidates and I am OBC.
I want to marry an SC girl who is educated," says an ad doing the rounds. He adds, "No dowry." Singh has got 10 offers so far. Three months ago, BJP leader Meghraj Singh married a Dalit girl to, in his words, "pursue my political dreams through my wife". In Iglas itself, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Harcharan Singh, then 38, married Sulekha Chaudhury, then 32, nearly 12 years ago. Chaudhury was an SC. Harcharan Singh wants his "eligible" wife to stand for elections from Iglas. The constituency has been reserved for 25 years, of which 10 years have gone by. "For 2017, my wife shall be the face of my politics," said Harcharan, defending his marriage as apolitical.
"We got married years ago and there was no politics behind it. But now I want to live my political aspirations through her," he added. "It used to be a general seat earlier and Chaudhury Rajinder Singh was our leader then. I have always been attached to Lokdal party and worked for it. People know me, but since I am OBC I do not have a chance," Ravinder Singh said. "I have nurtured this constituency. Now if I marry an SC girl I can serve the people through her," Singh said.
The point is, how these girls will be treated, if, they don''t win ? Why after 70 years of independence, India is more casteists then before ? Shame on these people. His situation is similar to that of BJP leader and zila panchayat member Meghraj Singh, who divorced his wife for "personal reasons" and married an SC girl named Kusum Chaudhury three months ago to, in his words, "pursue my political dreams through my wife". "I was actively involved in the Ram Mandir movement, but have been helpless ever since the seat got reserved.
I want to be an MLA but now I will have to live the life through my wife," the BJP leader said. Singh is quick to add, "Of course, she is capable of doing things on her own, from getting a ticket to fighting elections."
Instances of political alliances to take advantage of reservations are not new in Uttar Pradesh, particularly at the panchayat level. The trend of elected women leaders "outsourcing" their power to sons and husbands has been analysed by experts in the past, particularly with regard to panchayat elections, where the male members wield the actual power in reserved seats.