Three members of a domestic servants' association who are contesting the BMC polls promise to shut down alcohol shops within their jurisdiction, and also address water woes, housing and school issues

From being the central theme for the Oscar nominated film 'The Help' to gaining notoriety with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn episode, maids have been in the news worldwide over the past year. Now, three housemaids from the city are making news by contesting the upcoming civic polls, which will be held on February 16.

Tanuja Raool (32), Sumitra Dhabade (45), and Shakuntala Kamble (50) from Gharkamgar Molkarni Sanghatana (GMSM) will contest the BMC elections from ward-28 Kandivli (West), ward-39 and ward-37 in Malad (East) respectively. The tickets were provided to GMSM -- which is affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress -- by the Bhartiya Communist Party of India.

"20 lakh housemaids work in the city, out of which 8,000 are members of our organisation. This will be the first time that maids from the domestic servants' association will enter into the political fray," said Babli Rawat, general secretary of GMSM.

Maids in Mumbai: Tanuja Raool (in yellow saree), Sumitra Dhabade
(in pink saree) and Shakuntala Kamble are members of Gharkamgar
Molkarni Sanghatana and are contesting the BMC polls from the western
suburbs. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The main concern on the association's agenda is the problems plaguing the vast contingent of maids working in the city, either on full-time or part-time basis. But their top priority is the problem of alcohol abuse in their respective wards. "We will first try to put an end to the alcohol shops in the area, due to which a lot of families are affected. Simultaneously, we will address water woes, housing and school issues, if our representatives win the election," said Rawat.

Pinning their hopes on the vast army of maids in the city, Tanuja Raool said, "The enthusiasm of all our maid comrades is high. They come to campaign after finishing their household duties. I saw a 65-year-old maid coming at 9 am for the campaign. Seeing her courage and confidence, I feel proud and motivated."

"There are many candidates contesting from my area, but with god's grace and our comrades' help, I will win," said Kamble.

All the maids from GMSM have contributed Rs100 each towards the campaigns of their maid candidates. Till now, the association has collected Rs 20,000 for the three candidates and the money will be evenly distributed among them for campaigning. "Our three candidates, moreover, complete their daily work first and then campaign. That itself is a matter of appreciation," said Rawat.