At 97, Vidya Devi has become the most elderly sarpanch in Rajasthan. She wants to secure pension for all impoverished widows in her gram panchayat and to solve drinking water problem which sets her apart from the other contestants. She won the panchayat polls from Puranabas gram panchayat in Sikar by a margin of 207 votes on Friday.
“Devi, who won 843 votes beat Aarti Meena (636 votes) by a count of 207 votes of Puranabas gram panchayat below Neem ka Thana Panchayat Samiti in Sikar. Of the cumulative 4200, 2856 votes tallied at the Puranabas gram panchayat,” stated returning official of Neem ka Thana panchayat Samiti, Sadhuram Jat.
Vidya Devi's triumphant joy
Asked if she anticipated a win, with surety Vidya Devi, noted, “Hohhhh.” “Bahut acha lag raha hai. Mai pehli bar ladi hoon (I am very excited after the victory. I have fought in elections for the first time),” said Devi, whose father-in-law Subedar Sedu Ram was a Sarpanch from the very gram panchayat for 20 years and was chosen uncontested.
“I will work towards guaranteeing that all the poor widows in the gram panchayat get a pension. The pension must also be raised,” Devi said.
Devi's partner Major Shivram Singh became a sarpanch once, and her son Ram Singh Krishnia was sarpanch twice. Even if she is 97 years old, Devi marched two kilometres to file her submission for the panchayat election.
“Maine prachar kara chal ke. Mai ek dum durust hoon, koi dikkat nahi hai aur har roz kaafi paidal chal sakti hoon (I even campaigned walking. I don't have any health challenges. I am completely fit and walk many kilometres a day),” she said.
First steps after winning the election
“I will work towards guaranteeing that all the poor widows in the gram panchayat get a pension. The pension must also be raised,” Devi told TOI.
“As a sarpanch, I want to warrant a proper drinking water facility in Puranabas village and ensure supply of water to every household. I wish to concentrate on constructing roads in the village, provide cleanliness, hygienic conditions and sanitation. The roads are filthy here. I strive to make a better village and want to work for all,” she continued.
Her grandson Montoo Krishnia is also a Zila Parishad from Neem ka Thana tehsil.
Age is no barrier to success
Another senior citizen Harbhajan Kaur started her venture at the age of 94. Her daughter, Suri, motivated her to sell her personal favourite “besan ki barfi” when she was 90 years old.
Kaur's success has drawn applause from many, including industry tycoon Anand Mahindra, who named her his “entrepreneur of the year.”
“Devi, who won 843 votes beat Aarti Meena (636 votes) by a count of 207 votes of Puranabas gram panchayat below Neem ka Thana Panchayat Samiti in Sikar."
“When you hear the word 'start-up' it draws to mind pictures of millennials in Silicon Valley or Bengaluru trying to create billion-dollar 'unicorns.' From now on, let's also incorporate a 94-year-old woman who doesn't think it's too late to do a start-up. She's my businessperson of the year,” he said in a tweet.
Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV