31-year-old Gulmaki Dalwazi Habib has made history as she became the first Muslim woman to be chosen as the chairperson of any urban local body for the first time in the recently conducted civic body polls. Her appointment indicates a historic moment for the minority communities in Odisha’s poll history.
According to political analysts, no Muslim woman has ever been elected head of an Odisha civic body. However, from 1983 until 1990, Md Akbar was the chairperson of another Muslim-dominated municipality in Kendrapara.
As an independent candidate, Gulmaki became the chairperson beating Sasmita Mishra of the BJD by 3,256 votes. Of the 108 civic body election results announced on Saturday, only Gulmaki was chosen as the chairperson from the Muslim community. Despite the fact that her husband was a BJD leader, Gulmaki is a newbie to politics. She submitted her nomination papers for the seat after being urged by the locals.
Bhadrak town, on the Odisha coast, includes people from all walks of life. While Hindus make up 59.72 percent of the population, Muslims make up 39.56 percent, followed by Christians (0.12 percent), and Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains make up the rest (0.02 percent). Gulmaki disclosed: “The people voted for me because they want improvements in their communities, which I can provide.” She also revealed that her family and local people supported her campaign.
Furthermore, Gulmaki Dalwazi Habib is a Business Administration graduate and experienced data entry operator. She credits her success to the trust of the community and a shared aim of Bhadrak’s development. Habib comes from a political family. Her uncle, aunts have all been involved in politics for the past 30 years.
Her maternal uncle was on the council, and her maternal aunt served as vice-chairman for a number of years. Even she married into a politically active family. So, it was hard for her to be disconnected from politics in that sense, but she had never imagined that she would run for office and even win one.
After being elected as the chairperson she said: “Although I was born into a Muslim family, as chairwoman, I will work unbiasedly. My sole goal is to promote development. I’ve never encountered somebody who has kept negative feelings toward me. My Hindu brothers who volunteered to help me during the election will never regret voting for me. I’ll do my best for everyone.”