December 15th, 2016
Defying the orthodox fatwa of the Muslim clerics, 61-year-old Hasina Faras of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has strode to become the first Muslim woman mayor of Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
Faras had aimed to contest the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls last year but was warned by some 40-50 clerics of a local body called Majlis-e-Shoora-Ulama-e-Shahar that issued a fatwa calling it un-Islamic for a woman to stand for polls.
However, Faras, along with 18 other women, braved the fatwa contested in the elections. The post of the mayor was vacant for the past few weeks after mayor Ashwini Ramane had resigned.
In the 81-member house, Faras defeated the Tararani Front candidate Smita Mane by a margin of 11 votes. While Faras won 44 votes, Mane bagged 33.
Despite the religious hurdle thrown at her, Faras gained immense support from her family who has been associated with the NCP.
“The fatwa went against the democratic values of the country. Kolhapur has the great legacy of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. We did not pay attention to the fatwa and contested the elections. Society has changed and we have to accept the changes. Muslim women have entered every sphere of life. I will stand against extrajudicial elements in future too if similar fatwas are issued,” Faras told Times Of India.
Faras is the wife of former mayor Babu Faras and mother of former standing committee chairman Adil Faras. She is the first Muslim woman to hold the mayor’s post in the KMC.
Owing to the 50% reservation for women in the local civic bodies, there are 42 women corporators belonging to all major political parties in the 81-member KMC. An agreement was reached last year by the two alliance partners NCP and Congress that the mayor’s post will be rotated between the two parties. However, polls became necessary this year as opposition fielded a candidate.
Such an instance of a Muslim woman becoming the mayor is monumental because it sets an example of standing against the odds of religious hegemony that is still gripping a large section of the country.
The Logical Indian wishes Hasina Faras all the best for her future endeavours.