For 29-year-old Sarita Goswami, who was elected the sarpanch of Bhiwani Rohilan village along with 12 women panchayat members unanimously on Tuesday, girl education is on the top of agenda.
Sarita, a matriculate and mother of two, is not alone in this mission since she has the backing of 12 women panches, with the villagers choosing to elect her without taking the ballot route after a three-hour-long meeting at the village chaupal.
Even as the village, 20 km from the district headquarters, had earlier agreed to elect only women as panchayat members and that too unanimously, there were some apprehensions too.
“Some people were sceptical about the idea saying that there might be those who may choose to file nomination as we cannot force anybody to opt out. But it all went smooth as the entire village showed an exemplary unity while electing the panchayat members,” said Surender Goswami, a relative of Sarita.
The village would now get a grant of Rs 11 lakh for electing all panchayat members unanimously.
The elected panches are Raj Bala, Aarti Devi, Seema, Suman, Sushma, Rukma, Sunita, Sushila Devi, Sudesh Rani, Suwita Goswami, Santosh Devi and Seema Devi.
“I am very happy. After I came to know that I was elected the village sarpanch, the very first thought that came to my mind was to provide proper education to every girl of the village. Education is a much-needed tool for women empowerment,” Sarita said while talking to Hindustan Times.
“If a girl is educated, she goes on to educate two families. It is really painful to see the village elderly covering long distances to get the old-age pension. I will try my best to bring a bank branch in our village,” she said.
Her husband Chandiram, a farmer by profession, said, “She is hard working and I am sure she will work for the betterment of the village.”
The couple has two sons — Sumit (6) and Puneet (3).
“The village population is about 6,000 and it has 883 females against 1,000 males. I will also try to improve the sex ratio of the village and making it neat and clean. Good roads are also my priority,” Goswami added.
“Since the sarpanch’s seat was reserved for women, we made up out mind to elect an educated woman. We gave consent to Sarita’s name as she is a matriculate and is hard working. Then we started electing members from the 12 wards. A few months ago, some village youths appealed to everyone to elect women sarpanch and panchs and we accepted their proposal,” former sarpanch Beliram Singh said.
Hisar deputy commissioner Chandershakher Khare said, “I have come to know about this. We need to scrutinise nomination papers to see if someone else filed nomination from the village.”
Block development officer (BDO) Ramesh Mithrani said this is the first-of-its-kind case in the district and a similar case was reported in Mewat district.