A routine day for 21-year-old Rekha Rani used to revolve around taking orders, frying burgers, packing fries and serving with a smile at a popular fast food chain. But on Sunday, she got a job that involves a different kind of service. She won the sarpanch elections to her village Chapla Mori.
Rekha is the first sarpanch from her family and of the village, which once shared a common panchayat with two other villages. “I completed class 12. Then I received training under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana for two months. They arranged for my placement and I came to Chandigarh, where I got the job. My parents were very supportive,” she said.
Rekha is a beneficiary of the government’s move to ensure a minimum education qualification for panchayat candidates. The village sarpanch’s seat was reserved for a Schedule Caste woman this time.
“With the criteria, I was among the few people who could contest,” she said. But again, it was her family who supported her. “My father Bansi Lal asked me to file nomination. My family campaigned for me,” she said. On Sunday, she polled in 610 votes, beating Nirmal Rani by 220 votes.
“I feel girls should be independent. This is our contribution to the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao cause. I am very proud of my daughter,” said Bansi Lal. Rekha has a tough job on her hands.
“Children of our village have to go to the next village to study. Due to this, many parents prefer not to send their children to school. I will ensure that all children in the village are encouraged to study. I also plan to pursue my graduation through correspondence,” she said.