A Haryana Village Comes Together to Elect a School Teacher as Sarpanch, Breaking Caste Barriers

Chandigarh: Residents of Syahadwa village in Hisar district of Chandigarh has set a very unique and wonderful example for many others to follow. Breaking the caste barriers, the Syahadwa villagers unanimously elected the 48-year-old Ashwani Kumar, a private school teacher belonging to Backward Class as a Sarpanch. Not just that. They even collected Rs 1.75 lakh  to help him clear his bank and electricity dues so they would be able to elect him as their sarpanch.

The villagers had started efforts for a unanimous election keeping in view the intense lobbying and political rivalry that takes place for the post of sarpanch. Their search for a non-controversial and low profile candidate ended with 48-year-old Ashwani Kumar, who is a matriculate, belongs to a poor family, and serves as a village-level private school teacher.

Ashwani had expressed his inability to take the responsibility of sarpanch because of bank and electricity dues were pending against him. But villagers agreed to pay his all dues to avoid political rivalry in the village as there were 14 aspirants for the post. The 14 other aspirants for the post withdrew their nomination papers on the last day of withdrawal so they would be able to select one sarpanch unanimously.

The one thing that is both surprising and inspiring is that Ashwani Kumar belongs to the Kumhar (Lohar) community that is considered to be a backward class of traditional travelling blacksmiths. His is the only family from the Kumhar community in the village. And in Syahadwa village, which is majorly dominated by jats, his community has only 45 voters out of the total 3,600 in the electorate.

“We collected money and paid his loan and pending power arrears and filed his nomination papers. He is the most suitable person for the post in the village. Despite limited resources, he has always been eager to help anyone who comes to him. His cooperative nature and unbiased attitude made our job easy in finding a suitable candidate,” former sarpanch Ram Kumar said.

“I had never thought about such a responsibility,” says Ashwani. “We did not take interest in politics as we did not want to take any risk,” he adds. But, Ashwani has now resolved to perform his responsibility as a village head keeping in view the exceptions of the villagers.

The panchayat also elected 15 village panches, including four women, unopposed. They will now cast their votes only for the post of member of zila parishad on January 10, which involves a group of villagers coming together. The village will get Rs 11 lakh as reward for electing the entire panchayat unanimously.

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