Like most other states, panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh usually revolve around village elders, caste factors and local toughies. This time around, there’s a new dimension in some panchayats. An engineer, doctor and merchant navy officer are in the fray.
The elections, conducted in different phases, began on October 11 and will go on till October 25.
Vaidyanath Sahani, 33, an electrical engineer, is contesting from Khotahi, his native village in Kushinagar district in East UP. A BTech from Bareilly’s Rohilkhand University, Sahani quit a Gurgaon-based firm in 2009 after working for nine years to open an automation engineering institute in Khotahi.
Shifting from an upmarket locality in Delhi’s suburbs to the dusty roads of rural UP wasn’t easy. Sahani’s wife, Kiran, was worried about their children’s education. “I told her hundreds of children are awaiting us,” he said. The villagers are thrilled. “It’s the return of the native to his soil,” says Om Prakash, Sahani’s elder brother.
Ghulam Hasan Zaidi left a California-based merchant navy company to return to his village Motikpur in Barabanki district in the eastern part of the state.
A commerce graduate from Lucknow University, Zaidi initially joined the Shipping Corporation of India. He later worked in England and Saudi Arabia.
Zaidi had left Motikpur as a 20-year-old, determined to succeed in life.
He returned 35 years later with the same determination. “I used to visit my village every year and I was aware of the problems here,” Zaidi said. He floated an educational trust that supports 36 students. Joining the local panchayat to bring about more changes is the next step for him.
Another village benefiting from the attentions of a returned native is Jagannathpur in Deoria district in southeastern UP. Ravindra Nath Nayak, 27, an MBBS graduate, was interning at a private hospital in Lucknow when he visited the village to meet his parents.
But the death of many local children in a suspected outbreak of Japanese encephalitis moved him, and he decided to stay back to make a difference. He hopes to provide them exactly that if he gets elected.