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Bindi Bottoms
Sarita Devi Gram Pradhan, Kasehati, Raebareli

"When I saw that the Gram Pradhan seat was reserved for a woman, I thought about contesting for it. I went and spoke to my husband about my idea. He wasn’t very pleased. He doesn’t live in our village. He works in a laundry in Mumbai since we don’t have enough land to feed a family of 10.

I married into a family of washermen in a village located five kilometers away from Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh. As the daughter-in-law of a scheduled caste family, in order to contest the election, I had to come out of ghunghat and face people. This was an unacceptable thought for my in-laws. It didn’t help that elections in India are an expensive affair. All these considerations were serious enough to make me rethink.

However, I continued with my plans. I owe much of my success to a young advocate, Amresh Kumar. He has always been there for people like us in the village. I spoke to him and he encouraged me to start the battle. He convinced my family and the villagers and helped in raising support for me. I stepped out of my ‘dehri’ with a covered head in a saree to file my nomination for the Gram Pradhan.

I am a post graduate in Hindi Literature and this helped my candidacy. For the first time in the village, people were interested in supporting the candidate, discrediting factors such as caste, the family of the candidate and other conventional parameters. Instead, they talked about how educated the candidates were. Here, I found a ray of hope. I had seen my children missing school because there wasn’t a good road to the city. I had seen people dying because of non-availability of dispensaries. I put all these real issues in my agenda. I spoke to the women of every household and asked them to come and vote for these issues. It worked.

It’s been eight months since I won the elections. I have managed to work on the primary school and the roads in the villages. For the first time, new street lights have been installed and I think I can do better. Aapka uddeshya theek ho to dehri se kadam nikalne ki der hai bas (If your intentions are good, then all you need to do is step over the threshold of the house). .”


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