Absolute women panchayat in Himachal

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By: ML Verma

Shilma (Dec 16): While national-level leaders are still battling it out on the issue of women reservation in Parliament, a remote village in Himachal Pradesh has, in all in fairness to the fair sex, empowered them by unanimously electing them as panchayat members. The panchayat of Kamru in Kalpa block of Kinnaur district, having 1,100 voters, mostly tribals, have unanimously decided to elect an all-woman panchayat.

Returning officer BC Thakur told HimVani today that only women candidates filed their nomination papers. There is one candidate each on seven posts – one post each of ‘pradhan’ or president and ‘up- pradhan’ or vice-president and five ward members. “All the voters unanimously decided to field only seven candidates for the equal number of posts. On the last date of filing nomination papers (Dec 14), only seven candidates were in the fray. The results would be declared after December 18 – the last day for withdrawal of names,” he added.

If nobody withdraws papers, then Sunila Negi would be declared elected as ‘pradhan’, Rattan Manjari ‘up-pradhan’ and five ward members – Krishna Devi, Vinod Kumari, Sanjyoti, Shabnam Kumari and Sunder Devi. “It was the unanimous decision by all the voters to have an all-woman panchayat. It was the decision of the voters that women are more sensitive to the local issues,” Negi said.

The three-phase elections for 3,195 panchayat in the state would be held on December 28, 30 and January 1, 2011. Himachal and Tripura are among few pioneer states in the country which have already reserved 50 per cent seats for women in all Panchayati Raj institutions.