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Husbands seek to set agenda at ZP meet

Staff Correspondent

GULBARGA: In an open assertion of male authority, the general body meeting of the Gulbarga Zilla Panchayat was adjourned on Monday after members' husbands told their wives to come away after signing the attendance register and join them in a delegation to meet ZP president Shivaprabhu Patil and vice-president Harshanand Guttedar to settle their “grievances”.

The husbands unabashedly made it clear they wanted a say in the affairs of the ZP and demanded that the officials of the panchayat “consult” them.

Of the 43 members in the panchayat, 22 are women.

The officials had to explain to the husbands in a closed-door meeting later that the Panchayat Raj Act did not provide any role for members' husbands and, therefore, officials were not accountable to them.

The meeting scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. had not yet started at 2 p.m., forcing the lone Independent, Shobha Bani, to object to the way the meeting was being conducted. She said that the president and vice-president had intentionally stayed away.

At this, Mr. Patil and Mr. Guttedar entered the hall and announced the adjournment of the meeting for want of quorum. Ms. Bani, however, objected saying that even though the members were not present they had already signed the attendance register and that officially there was full quorum.

Sources close to Mr. Patil said that he held confabulations with the women members and their spouses for more than three hours in his chamber, with the husbands demanding an equal say in the affairs of the panchayat.

Mr. Patil was forced to adjourn the meeting under pressure.

Even in the Standing Committees on Health and Education, Social Justice, and Agriculture and Industry, where women outnumber men, the same situation arose, with husbands insisting on participating in the discussions.

Later, the president and officials had a closed-door meeting with the couples to reach an agreement.

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