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Devdasis boycott Maharashtra elections

Last updated on: October 13, 2009 11:03 IST

Devdasis boycott Maharashtra elections

A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai

An imposing statue of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar holding the Constitution in his hand welcomes you as you enter Ramabhai colony in Ghatkopar East. By the roadside, Vilas Bhau Rupvati is assembling members of his organisation.

Reportedly, his organisation -- Vilas Bhau Rupvati Pratishthan -- comprises 9 lakh women members across Maharashtra and 20,000 members in Ghatkopar alone. The members include Devadasis (literally slaves of god), widows and destitute women. None of them will cast their vote in Tuesday's polling.

They even have their own Identity cards. To prove their strength in numbers, they carry along a copy of their ID cards, which are collected during the event. "It is proof of attendance," says a young boy.

Their main demand: Rs 2000 as pension for widows. Though many of the members did receive pension under the Sanjay Gandhi pension scheme, the group claims that the manner in which the scheme is implemented is haphazard. Moreover, the scheme stops when the widow's son turns 18.

"The government is so heartless. Do you think an 18-year-old earns enough to look after his mother? And even if he did, he would probably spend it on himself and not on his aged mother," laments Lataji, one of the organisers.

And since their appeals fell on deaf years, Vilas Bhau and the women members of his organisation decided not to vote in Tuesday's election.

Image: Devdasis assemble at Ghatkopar
Video: A Ganesh Nadar