Madhya Pradesh: For the first time, a gram panchayat in Panna district elects an all-women panchayat

Good news from the adivasi-dominated Panna district where Aramganj gram panchayat has elected a woman sarpanch and 17 women panchs as representatives for the rural administration. In order to felicitate the panchayat for its achievement, the state government will reward it with Rs 1,500,000 which will be utilised for the welfare of the rural residents. Details here.

Arun SinghArun Singh   13 Jun 2022 4:01 PM GMT

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Madhya Pradesh: For the first time, a gram panchayat in Panna district elects an all-women panchayat

Apart from Rajni Bai, 17 adivasi women, two women from the Brahmin community and one from the other backward castes (OBC) have been elected unopposed as the panch in the Aramganj panchayat. All photos by Arun Singh

Panna, Madhya Pradesh

Rajni Bai is an overnight star in her Aramganj village as she has been elected unopposed to hold the office of the sarpanch (village head). Also, the position of the 17 other panch (ward heads) have been secured by women — with 15 of them belonging to marginalised communities. Aramganj village is situated at a distance of 22 kilometres from Madhya Pradesh's Panna district

"I am happy that I am entrusted with this responsibility. It feels good to be known as the sarpanch of my village, I feel empowered," Rajni Bai, who has received formal education upto class eighth told Gaon Connection. She belongs to the Basor community which is known for weaving stuff like baskets from bamboo fibre and is classified as a Scheduled Caste.

"My husband works as a sanitation worker at the village school. Also, my household makes items from bamboo and also rear pigs. I assure you that we women will lead the grameen prashaasan (rural administration) in an efficient manner. My biggest dream is to ensure that my daughters complete their education and become self-reliant," she added.

Apart from Rajni Bai, 17 adivasi women, two women from the Brahmin community and one from the other backward castes (OBC) have been elected unopposed as the panch in the Aramganj panchayat.

Also Read: Rural women in Madhya Pradesh replace traders to directly procure agri produce from farmers

Talking about the collective decision of around 3,000 rural inhabitants to elect women panchayat members, 65-year-old Anandilal Kondar told Gaon Connection that the Basor household of which Rajni Bai is a part of, has been serving the village for generations.

Rajni Bai — the woman elected as the sarpanch by general consensus.

"There is a single Basor household in my village. Their ancestors have served the village with their labour. It was high time that we thank them for their contribution to the village and we collectively decided to honour Rajni Bai by electing her as the sarpanch," Kondar told Gaon Connection.

"We are happy that women will lead the village now," she added.

The Aramganj village panchayat area includes small rural settlements such as Pandey Purva, Laukiha Purva, Vishramganj, Bangalan, and Chhirayi.

Also Read: Social change her biggest aspiration, she crossed dual hurdles of gender and community to become a national athlete

Apart from Rajni Bai at the helm, the rural administration at the village panchayat level in Aramganj will now be managed by the following women as panchs — Pan Bai, Raju Bahu, Bhagwati, Chanda, Mana Bai, Kishori Bai, Gansi, Binnu, Muna Bai, Sushma, Muliya Bai, Shanti Bai, Radha, Rukmin, Phoolan Bai, and Maya Sen.

Chief Minister's women empowerment initiative a contributing factor

On May 27, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that those gram panchayat who not only elect their heads and members unopposed but also elect women as sarpanchs and panchs will be rewarded financially.

"It has been seen that local body polls, particularly in the villages (panchayats) not only lead to competition between candidates, but the contest even turns into conflicts and after the polls are over, such conflicts sometimes turn into violent feuds," Chouhan was quoted.

"In the last panchayat polls, many villages had unanimously decided to elect their sarpanch and panch unopposed. Such a harmonious development is possible even in these polls. We've decided to bracket such panchayats this time as Samrasta Panchayats and model villages," he added.

The chief minister announced a financial reward of Rs 1.2 million for village panchayats, where only women are elected as sarpanch and panch, and Rs 1.5 million to all those village panchayats which elect women as sarpanch and panch unopposed without elections.

"We would be happy if the same formula is followed in the urban local body polls also," Chouhan had stated.

Lakhanlal Pal, a 40-year-old resident of the Aramganj village told Gaon Connection that ever since the village population got to know about CM Chouhan's announcement, it was mutually decided that women candidates should be chosen unopposed.

"The financial reward will be used for the development in our village and it will be beneficial to all," Pal said.

Financial reward to benefit those displaced by dam project

Hanumant Pratap Singh, a resident of the village told Gaon Connection that a many farmers in the village will lose their lands to a dam project and the financial reward will be used for assisting these farmers.

"The money will be used for assisting the rehabilitation of those residents who will lose their lands and household to the Runj baandh (Runj Medium Irrigation Project) and the development of the village panchayat at large,' Singh told Gaon Connection.

Also Read: Towards Gram Swaraj: Gangakhedi village in Jhabua leads with decentralised planning

As per the executive summary of the environmental impact assessment report of the project, Runj Medium Irrigation Scheme shall be located in Ajaygarh tehsil of Panna district at a distance of 250 metres from the Aramganj gram panchayat.

The proposed scheme consists of a 1,182 metres-long composite dam across river Runj which is a tributary of Bhagain river which ultimately confluences with the Yamuna.

Madhya Pradesh women empowerment 

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