January 20, 2021 1:55:52 am
Two 21-year-olds from Solapur district have set a record of becoming the youngest sarpanches in Maharashtra with their wins in the gram panchayat elections, results of which were declared on Monday. A resident of Ghatne village, Rituraj Deshmukh, and Bhadewadi village, Priyanka Redekar, are all set to take up the mantle.
Deshmukh, a science graduate, contested the polls under the banner of Loknete Baburau Anna Patil Gramsamruddhi panel. Out of seven members in the panel, five won the polls. Any individual aged 21 or above is eligible to contest the gram panchayat polls. Which is why, Deshmukh decided not to wait any longer and took the plunge into politics at the grassroots. His foremost agenda is the development of his village.
“Two major problems that are worrying me are long power cuts and water shortage,” he said, adding that the power supply to the village was erratic sometimes and, sometimes, residents had to go without power for eight to 10 hours.
“Our gram panchayat panel will work to ensure sustained power supply. We will look at alternative renewable energy like solar power,” Deshmukh said.
Mohol taluka is a drought-prone area that has perennial water crisis, which gets worse in peak summer.
Deshmukh said village residents often used two-wheelers to travel up to 5 to 10 km to fetch water from a canal or wells. But the elders in the village, who have no access to transport, often courted hardships, he added.
Redekar, after eliciting the support of her family and other residents of the village, contested the gram panchayat polls and emerged victorious. “I will do both village politics and continue with my studies,” she said.
Shortly after the results were announced, village residents felicitated her for winning the gram panchayat polls. “I will work with our senior members for the development of the village,” she said. She was chosen for the gram panchayat polls as the village wanted to have a woman candidate in the panel.
Redekar came across as an eligible candidate who could shoulder the responsibilities in village politics. She rides a motorcycle in the village to fetch fodder for the cows, milk them as well as knowledge about farm activities.
Village local groups lead, win 520 gram panchayats in unopposed category
Elections in 1,403 gram panchayats were held unopposed in Maharashtra. The state witnessed fierce contest with mainstream political parties pushing their panels to gain a greater hold at the grassroots. There were, however, some exceptions.
In the unopposed category, local groups not aligned to any established party took the lead winning 520 gram panchayats. It was followed by the Shiv Sena winning 278, 257 for the BJP, 219 for the NCP, 124 for the Congress and five for the MNS.
Out of the total 27,920 gram panchayats, 14,234 were scheduled for polls. Polling, however, took place in 12,711. Apart from these, there were instances of the Election Commission cancelling the polls in at least two districts following complaints of auction.
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