A Rajasthan village elected a 21-year-old Delhi University girl its sarpanch on Saturday in a rare show of solidarity to encourage woman leadership during the ongoing panchayat elections in the state.
Sauve, English-speaking Vasundhara Choudhary, is apparently the second well-educated woman sarpanch in Rajasthan. The first was 28-year-old Chhavi Rajawat, a management graduate, who left a well-paid corporate job to become a sarpanch from Soda village in Tonk district in 2010.
The three-phase panchayat elections began in the state on January 16. Saturday was the election day at Lilawali village in Hanumangarh district, about 415 kilometres from Jaipur. Friday was the last day of filing nominations for panch and Sarpanch elections. The villagers sat together and decided nobody would contest against Vasundhara Choudhary. Within 30 minutes she and 13 ward members were declared elected.
Choudhary is studying in the third year of psychology (Honours) in Gargi College in Delhi. She wants to complete her master’s in psychology or gender studies and then do a doctorate—“maybe a double doctorate, who knows!” she told HT.
She says, “I think being young and educated worked in my favour. I have always been interested in social work and wanted to make a change. This responsibility will give me an opportunity to do all that,” she said.
No wonder Choudhary hails from a family of politicians. Her grandfather Bhim Raj was chosen village sarpanch in 1962 unanimously. He served two terms before becoming an MLA from Nohar in 1972 and a member of Rajya Sabha in 1978. Her father Anil Choudhary’s political STINT began and ended with a Zila Parishad membership in 1996. He sought Congress ticket from Sangaria and Nohar constituencies thrice but failed.
BJP legislator from Sangaria Krishan Kadva said barring 2005 and 2010 elections, the village had always elected gram panchayat representatives unopposed.
“I was keen to revive the tradition. To have women on all posts was an idea that came after PM Modi’s Panipat function,” he said.