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To push development in remote Hingoli village, PhD holder from Spanish university contests GP polls, wins

Chitra Kurhe was part of a nine-member panel backed by Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) that saw eight candidates winning the gram panchayat election from this tribal village.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
January 19, 2021 7:13:09 pm
The remote village located in Hingoli tehsil in the Marathwada region has an approximate population of 1,600. According to the 2011 Census, the female literacy rate here is 28.7 per cent. (Representational)

Little did 36-year-old Dr Chitra Kurhe know that five years after returning to the country in 2016, armed with a doctorate in political science from the University of Santiago in Spain, she would be contesting the Gram Panchayat elections at the remote tribal village of Digrasvani in Hingoli district of Maharashtra.

She was part of a nine-member panel backed by Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) that saw eight candidates winning the gram panchayat election from this tribal village.

“My husband Anil, who also holds a doctorate in zoology, hails from Digrasvani village and whenever we return or spend time here, we are appalled at the lack of development,” Kurhe said, adding that kuccha roads and water shortage were among the main problems.

The remote village located in Hingoli tehsil in the Marathwada region has an approximate population of 1,600. According to the 2011 Census, the female literacy rate here is 28.7 per cent.

While gram panchayat elections are not fought on party symbols, panels of candidates are often backed by different political parties.

According to VBA office-bearers, the party had decided to officially announce the backing of panels across various panchayats. At Digrasvani, the panel included Chitra Kurhe, Subhash Khandare, Meena Vasekar, Sunita Khandare, Laxman Asole, Anita Aadalkar, Ujjwala Naikwal, Hemant Khandare and Salubai Paikarav. Kurhe polled the maximum votes at 220 against her opponent Panchabai Khandare, who got 60 votes.

With eight out of nine members winning from this panel, Kurhe said she had a clear chance of getting elected unopposed to the post of the village sarpanch. “This panel has a majority and at our village meetings, I was informed that I would be elected unopposed as the sarpanch,” she said.

Kurhe said that her husband motivated her to contest the election as a Scheduled Tribe candidate. “We strongly feel that most educated people prefer to take a backseat when it comes to joining politics actively. With my husband’s support, I also decided to participate in the election,” she said.

Kurhe hails from Nashik and had completed her post graduation from K.T.H.M college. She was involved with a small project from the State Women’s Commission, after which both she and her husband pursued doctoral studies abroad. Anil works in Ahmednagar and travels daily from Nashik to his workplace.

“I have two children and will stay in the village. Initially, we are aiming at a liquor ban and we also want to actively enrol girls in schools,” she said.

Transgender candidate Anjali Patil elected from Bhadli Budruk Gram Panchayat

Anjali Patil, 40, is the first transgender representative to get elected from the Bhadli Budruk Panchayat in Jalgaon district. Her candidature was supported by the VBA. “I had filed my nomination from a seat reserved for women, which others opposed. Then VBA helped me file a case in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, so that I could be allowed to file my candidature from the constituency reserved for women,” Patil said.

The court had allowed her nomination while ruling that as per the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the right of the transgender person for a self-perceived gender identity was permitted. In Patil’s case, she had opted for the female gender as her self-perceived gender identity.

“I have won the elections by a margin of 560 votes and am very happy,” she said.

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