A Dalit sarpanch in Damoh district makes both ends meet by occasionally begging in the village where she is supposed to be in a decision-making role.
Unlettered,Rajni Bansal was elected as sarpanch of the reserved Bachhama gram panchayat seat in 2010 when she was forced to contest. Its been more than three years but she has not attended the office.
The plight of the mother of five seems to have worsened because she does not even get the honorarium on time and the villagers have stopped employing her labourer husband. She is called to hoist the Tricolour because thats customary,probably the only time she gets any invitation.
Moved by her plight after reading a newspaper report,BJP MLA from Hata Umadevi Khatik has decided to help her. Its a poor,backward and undeveloped region. She does not know her job because she is uneducated, she said.
Chief executive officer of Hata Janpad Panchayat Anand Shukla said he had sent a fact-finding team to the remote village where access has been made difficult by rains. He claimed it was unlikely that the woman has taken to begging as the government was providing food grains at nominal rate to BPL and Antyodaya families.
A previous panchayat secretary had been removed because he allegedly made her put thumb impression on files. Since then development work in the panchayat has stopped. Shukla and Khatik hinted there were irregularities in the panchayats accounts.
Executive director of Samarthan Yogesh Kumar said mere reservation wont bring about womens empowerment. He said in Rajnis case,there was a need for reforms because seats are reserved in accordance with the SC/ST population in the entire block. These reserved seats are randomly chosen creating a situation when SCs or STs are in much less numbers in that particular seat leading to unwilling candidates getting elected.