Once living in a five-room house and working from an air-conditioned office, a former district panchayat chairperson is now earning livelihood by selling toffees and biscuits from a roadside makeshift stall in MP’s Sheopur district.
Guddi Bai, a 40-year-old widow, who was the Sheopur district panchayat chairperson between 2010 and 2015, says life could have been better for her and her family if she had utilised the opportunities to make quick money. But she chose not to engage in corruption.
“Throughout my five year tenure as district panchayat head, I got several opportunities to make quick money, but fear of going to jail and public ignominy of being a dishonest politician stopped me from getting trapped in the quicksand of corruption,” she said, adding that her family lived a Spartan life even with Rs 11,000 honorarium earlier and still did not have qualms about getting Rs 1,500 as honorarium as a Karahal janpad panchayat member.
“(But) the money is not enough for me and my family to make both ends meet,” she told HT. Bai now runs a small roadside shop from outside her mother’s two-room house in Sesayipura locality of Sheopur town, 280 km from Bhopal.
“Before becoming the district panchayat chairperson, I was a homeless daily wager. Six years later, I am still homeless and live in my mother’s house. However, instead of working as daily wager, I now run my family with Rs 50-100 earned from the makeshift shop outside the house,” said Bai.
Her only dream now is to see one of her sons become a doctor or an engineer.
A tribal, Bai faced several hardships after her husband Dinchand’s demise in 2003. Impressed by her resolve to bring up her children by working as a labourer, former Congress leader Dhirendra Tomar had funded her elections for the district panchayat polls from Karahal in 2010.
“I was like a sister to Tomar, who paid Rs 60,000 so that I could contest the district panchayat polls,” she said. After winning the polls, incumbent Union minister Narendra Tomar inducted Bai into the BJP after her election to Sheopur district panchayat chairperson’s post.