India is climbing the ladder of political leadership, but women remain an inequitable feat. At the same time, reservations and active efforts to increase diversity have improved women's participation in politics. Tamil Nadu, a land of temples and traditions, has brought women leaders into the limelight on inter-state politics.
Tamil Nadu's leading party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has allotted 11 seats to women and 9 to men as the mayor.
DMK previously issued orders under the Tamil Nadu town panchayats, municipalities, corporations (Delimitation of wards or Divisions and Reservations) Rules, 1996, reserving the mayor's position in Chennai and Tambaram Corporation for women from the Scheduled Caste community as mentioned on the government of Tamil Nadu's website.
Priya Rajan, Chennai
The DMK, which won the recently concluded urban local body election, has nominated Priya Rajan, a 28-year-old MCom graduate, won from ward 74 in Thiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar zone, as their candidate for the position of Mayor in Chennai Corporation. Priya will be the first Dalit woman to hold the position.
Priya joined DMK at the age of 18 and has been closely associated with politics because of her father, R Rajan, a DMK functionary working with the party since 1987.
Priya is stepping into big shoes, as both the current chief minister, M K Stalin (1996-2002), and the health minister, M Subramanian (2006-2011), served as mayors of Chennai. Rajan's father stated that the duo would be role models for his daughter.
Vasanthakumari, elected from Ward 32, is a chemical engineer with a bachelor's degree becomes DMK's Mayor, as the seat was reserved for SC women.
Vasanthkumari promised the Tambaram corporation and said that Chennai is well-known for its metro water infrastructure and piped water supply. Tambaram, on the other hand, despite its proximity, lacks the same. So I'll work hard to build the same infrastructure here.
She further added, "Graduated in B Tech chemical engineering, but I got married and was a housewife. Now, I will be fully dedicated to carrying out the work designated for the mayor," quoted Times Of India.
Kalpana Anandakumar, Coimbatore
The DMK has fielded Kalpana Anandakumar as its Coimbatore city mayor candidate. Kalpana, who belongs from Maniyakarampalayam, is a responsible mother of two, and she was elected to the urban local body from Ward 19. Her husband, Anandakumar, is a DMK's Maniyakarampalayam area committee member. She came from a low-income family and was employed in a diamond factory. In the same area, Anandakumar runs an e-Seva centre.
Kalpana Anandakumar, 40, will be the Corporation's first female mayor. The DMK high command surprised not only party cadre but also city residents by fielding a candidate who was little known in party circles and the general public.
Indirani Ponvasanth, Madurai
DMK's Indirani Ponvasanth, a 43-year-old housewife, was elected unopposed as the second female mayor of Madurai Corporation, as she belongs to the SC community of Tamil Nadu. Her husband Ponvasanth supports finance minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, working as an advocate.
After getting elected as a mayor, she told the media that she would work for Madurai's development. She expressed gratitude to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, and members of the general public.
Sujatha Anandakumar, Vellore
The DMK has chosen Sujatha Anandakumar, the 38-year-old postgraduate, as its mayor candidate for the Vellore Municipal Corporation.
Sujatha had spent the majority of her life in Konavattam. She attended a government school in the neighbourhood before pursuing her MEd and law degrees. Her husband, K. Anandkumar, who has been a member of the DMK since 1991, persuaded her to join the party as a cadre in 2004. The couple ran a cable television network in the neighbourhood for more than two decades.
After getting elected as a mayor, Sujata insisted that instead of making grandiose promises now, she preferred to make them one after the other, as the party president had requested. The primary task would lay quality roads, distribute potable water to all 100 wards, and remove the garbage as quickly as possible. At the same time, the Corporation would focus on Madurai's development and growth by enlisting the help of large corporations.