The state government may have announced 50% quota for women in panchayats to promote their presence in rural policy making, but shadows of the patriarchy are longer than reforms, especially in Shajapur.
Not content with the status of 'sarpanch pati'- as the husband of a woman sarpanch is commonly referred to-Narendra Kumar took oath as the village head in the place of his wife Laxmibai, the newly elected sarpanch of Hanukhedi in the district.
The incident came to light recently after a video of the oathtaking ceremony became viral on the social media following which the chief executive officer of the janpad panchayat suspended the panchayat secretary, who administered him the oath, on Sunday.
A probe has also been initiated into the incident. Laxmi Bai had won the panchayat election by 300 votes after Hanukhedi was declared a reserved seat for women.
However, on March 24 her husband Kumar, an employee in the Regional Transport Office in Ujjain, 'officially' took charge as a sarpanch in the presence of officials, panches and several villagers.
Panchayat secretary Durga Prasad Dhangar had administered him the oath.
"We had sought clarification from secretary Durga Prasad. He sent his clarification on Friday, which did not seem convincing at all. He has been suspended," CEO of janpad panchayat Amit Kumar Vyas told Hindustan Times over the phone.
In his reply, Prasad had maintained that everything had been done gaccording to rules.h The janpad panchayat CEO has also sent a letter to Narendra Kumar's office in Ujjain.
"He is a government servant and senior authorities of the department concerned are expected to take action against him," said Vyas. He added a team has been constituted to conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident. Further action would be taken only after they submit their report, he said.