Other States

Villagers make sarpanch candidates write tests

In poll season, candidates often use hyperbole. But, villagers in Odisha’s Sundargarh district chose not to be swayed by their tall promises, instead they asked candidates to appear for written tests to win their trust.

Eight out of the nine candidates vying for the sarpanch post in Kutra panchayat had no option but to write answers to the seven questions posed by the people of Malupada, a tribal-dominated village. Candidates also took oral tests.

The questions asked were — What are the five primary objectives of contesting elections? If elected sarpanch, what would be the goals for the next five years? If you entered politics for social service, name five of your earlier social works; Will you solve the problems of people after winning election? How would your dream panchayat be? What is the population and number of wards in the panchayat? Who are the sarpanches who held office previously?

Villagers have resolved to elect the candidate whose performance in the written and oral tests is to their satisfaction.

When the novel way of seeking accountability made it to a local newspaper, the candidates felt offended. “I was one of the candidates who sat for the written tests. All was done in good faith. But, names of successful candidates should not have been made public. It sent across a bad message,” Nuasa Dang, a sarpanch candidate, later told a local news channel.

Another candidate Lalita Barua said, “Villagers were adamant on the tests. As a person who has chosen to be in public life, I respected their sentiments and wrote it. I also answered the volley of questions posed by villagers.”

Facilities lacking

Malupada residents are annoyed at the lack of facilities in the village. “The condition of roads is bad. There are not enough teachers in the local college. Villagers wanted to be ascertain what a sarpanch would do in next five years. Hence, the candidates were told to present their views,” said Kirti Ekka, a villager.

Elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions in Odisha are scheduled to be held in five phases from February 16 to 24.

In the run-up to the polls, villagers have been confronting candidates with uncomfortable questions. While residents of Pakatamunda village in Dhenkanal district wanted candidates to swear by the name of village deity that they would fulfil their promises, Nayapalli villagers in Jagannathprasad block of Ganjam district demanded that the candidates write their promises on stamp paper.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 5:13:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/villagers-make-sarpanch-candidates-write-tests/article38420023.ece