A nonagenarian, Pakistan-born daughter are village sarpanch in Rajasthan

Jaipur, Jan 18, 2020-

Vibrant stories of democracy came out live in Rajasthan when a 97-year-old woman, Vidhya Devi, won local polls in Sikar district’s Puranabas gram panchayat while a Pakistan-born daughter, now an Indian, won local polls and became a village sarpanch in Tonk district’s gram panchayat Natwara.

While Vidhya Devi, the oldest among the winners, wants to work for facilitating easy availability of pensions funds for widows, cleanliness and smooth supply of water, Neeta Kanwar aims to work for women empowerment, better education and health facilities.

Adding more to the stories of grassroots democracy, an MA student Suchitra Gadhwal (22) from Sikar won local polls to be elected as sarpanch in Lalasi panchayat. She is the youngest winner in local panchayat polls. She wants to work for cleanliness and smooth supply of water in her village.

The elections for 2,727 gram panchayats were held on Friday.

The nonagenarian won elections by 207 votes, polling 873 votes. She contested for the first time, she said, adding her father-in-law Subedar Seduram had been sarpanch here for last 20 years. Even her husband Major Shivram Sigh was a sarpanch once.

Vidya Devi says she is hale and hearty and has no health complications. She can walk several kilometres at a stretch, she says.

Neeta Kanwar, who was given Indian citizenship in September 2019 after she came to India in 2001 to purse her higher studies, defeated her rival Sonu Devi by 362 votes.

She received Indian citizenship in September last year after living in India for 18 years.

According to Neeta, her father-in law Thakur Laxman Karan, who has been a sarpanch thrice from Natwara has been her source of inspiration.

“I was given my citizenship in September last year. Now, my father-in-law guided me to contest these polls,” she said.

Nita came to India with her sister Anjana Sodha from Mirpur Khas, Sindh, some 19 years ago.

She got enrolled in Ajmer’s Sophia College and completed her BA in 2005 and then got married in 2011. She studied till class XII in Sindh and then came to India.

While she, her sister and mother came to India, her father and brother continue to live in Pakistan and are engaged in farming.

Nita has two children, a girl and a boy.  (Agency)

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