Published: 03rd February 2022
Teachers, students... legislators: These Odia youngsters contesting in the panchayat polls are driven by a need for change
They are below 25 and are full of passion to serve. Currently busy with their own campaigns, these three young women are contesting elections with the intention of serving people
Odisha is gearing up for panchayat polls and so are the many youngsters that have decided to contest these elections. To be held in five phases starting from February 16 to 24 amidst strict COVID protocols, there are restrictions on campaigning as well. No rallies or victory processions are permitted and if they opt for door-to-door campaigns, only five people will be permitted to do so together, the State Election Commission had announced. But these youngsters, who are stepping into the political arena for the first time amidst the raging third wave of the pandemic, are innovatively ensuring that their yen for change reach the general public.
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Here's Subhasmita Sahu who is the Congress candidate contesting from Zone-1 of Astaranga block in Puri. As a Junior Engineer working for Tata Group, when the mandate for WFH (Work From Home) began, she decided to come back home but was aghast at the arrangements made in the state's quarantine centres. Even the Rs 2,000 stipend that was promised wasn't given. Then there were issues like lack of a water pipeline and medical facility. "I felt like I was becoming a part of the corruption and started constantly asking myself what I am doing for the people," says the 23-year-old.
And none of them is out of touch with reality. "Winning and losing is fine, but I have come forward to contest, that's the biggest deal for me," shares Subhasmita who is pursuing her BTech third year from Synergy Institute of Engineering & Technology. There are no jobs, perhaps that's why more youngsters are stepping into politics, she mulls and says that more youngsters should be stepping into the ring. As far as she is concerned, even if she doesn't win, she hopes that she will be engaged in serving the people.
Politics, for Smruti Rekha Behera, is simply a medium. She is contesting on a Biju Janata Dal ticket from Zone-13 of Dharmasala block in Jajpur district to simply serve society to the best of her ability. That's also why she chose to become a Zoology lecturer at Regional Plus Two Science College. "Only educated people can lead the society towards literacy," she shares.
It was back when she was studying in Class IX that Smruti Rekha helped a lady in pain get to the hospital. Since then, she has been asking herself existential questions which have led to where she is now. "I don't know about happy times, but I surely want to be there for the people when they are down or are in need," shares the 23-year-old.
Contesting for the post of Samiti Sabhya (position second to the Sarpanch) in Narsinghpur is 22-year-old Tanaya Mallick, who was previously the President of BJD's GIrls Wing for a whole year. She says it was MLA Pranab Kumar Balabantaray who encouraged her to step up for the challenge. Education and jobs are two causes that she feels most passionate about.
But wasn't she worried about stepping into politics, since most youngsters don't have the highest opinion about it, we wonder. "On the contrary, I feel it is the best medium to serve people. And I also want to ensure that youngsters understand this," says the youngster who pursued Economics from Dharamshala (Degree) Mahavidyalaya.