Admitting that “deliberate attempts” were being made to prevent women occupying the sarpanch’s post at the Bhoma-Adcolna Panchayat, North Goa MP Shripad Naik has advocated the need to amend the Goa Panchayat Raj Act to ensure women are given their rightful role in local bodies.
For over six months, Deputy Sarpanch Damodar Naik is the acting sarpanch after Varsha Naik was ousted on August 17, barely three months after she took charge in May last year amid allegations and counter-allegations.
It may be recalled that elections to elect a new sarpanch, which is reserved for women, was postponed on two occasions as there was no second to Mahima Naik’s candidature.
The-seven member panchayat has five male panchas. On October 15, the five male panchas remained absent, while on December 14, none of the five male panchas decided to second Mahima Naik’s candidature. The other female panch Varsha Naik had proposed Mahima’s name to the sarpanch’s post.
The villagers had brought the issue to the notice of the MP during his visit to the panchayat on Sunday evening. Naik had also visited three other panchayats in Priol constituency to listen to grievances and discuss projects to be implemented under MPLAD scheme.
Speaking to Herald, the MP said: “I believe this is the only panchayat where deliberate attempts are being made to keep woman away from her rightful role.”
“Since the post of sarpanch is reserved women, there should have been a woman sarpanch. Some changes are needed in the Panchayati Raj Act so that such incidences do not occur in future. I will recommend for an amendment to the Goa Panchayat Raj Act to the State’s panchayat minister,” stated Naik.
Speaking on his visit to the panchayats, he said it was a routine visit to interact with villagers and to know issues concerning them.
“I have already visited panchayats in 12 out of the 20 constituencies in North Goa. In Priol constituency, so far I have covered four panchayats and issues related to roads, water, electricity will be forwarded to the concerned departments and we will also do follow up. Some works will also be undertaken under MPLAD funds,” he said.
When asked whether visits to the panchayats are in view of Lok Sabha polls, Naik said: “Not at all. During the last term, I had visited all the panchayats and it is my routine visit.” [H]