The Telegraph
Saturday , May 31 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Tech-savvy mukhiya to meet Ivy League MP
- Profound paradox of rural woman on Facebook crusading for dirt-poor villager who lost a well

Ranchi, May 30: She’s the Facebook follower of newly elected Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha, but she deserves to be on his friends list.

Meet 26-year-old Katkamdag village mukhiya Priyanka Kumari of Hazaribagh, who’s Internet-savvy, is on Facebook and has WhatsApp on her phone. And, she sought an appointment with her constituency’s MP based on his FB post when he announced a district board meeting on May 31 in Hazaribagh.

“I need to speak to Jayantji about a dirt-poor MGNREGS worker, Bigan Prajapati, who has asked me for permission to commit suicide. His well, which he dug on his own land as part of an MGNREGS project in November, got damaged in the recent rain and he has not been paid for his labour as well,” Priyanka said.

“When I read Jayantji’s FB post on May 29, I immediately decided to seek an appointment on this matter,” she added.

The post that Priyanka read is this: “Friends, development is a team sport and we win or lose together...We are all here to serve the public, not to rule over the public! If services are not being delivered and projects are not being done, then we must work together to put pressure on all public servants to do their jobs…I am going to be attending the District Board Meeting on May 31 and will suggest that we should have a report card for the District. The DC should publish this report card every month and tell us how we are doing on delivering on public services. If the PM can have a report card, then the MP and the DC should have a report card too!”

“I read all his posts,” said Priyanka. “I find them inspiring.”

Not just tech-savvy, Priyanka is a multitasking pro, as she juggles her duties as mukhiya, wife and mother of two sons effortlessly, and also manages to find time to study for her postgraduate political science course from Magadh University, Gaya.

Jayant, an IITian and alumnus of two Ivy League schools, including Harvard University, is easily among the most hi-profile of the 282 BJP MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha. But he will no doubt be mighty impressed by Priyanka.

The firebrand woman leader is among the brightest faces in the state’s grassroots governance.

She’s one of the three mukhiyas in Jharkhand whose panchayat got a reward of Rs 15 lakh last month from the Centre for development activities undertaken and accomplished.

Ever since Prajapati wrote to Priyanka, asking for her permission to kill himself because of his dire straits, she laid siege to block offices for his dues.

“My only hope now is Jayantji. He is a visionary and will understand. A man seeking permission to die because his payment has been illegally stopped can’t be tolerated,” she says firmly.

Contacted, Katkamdag BDO Nutan Kumari pointed out a discrepancy in paperwork. “The original work was permitted for plot No. 257 whereas the work was done at plot No. 237,” she said. But asked about whether the site was verified when Prajapati started to dig his well, Nutan backtracked: “I wasn’t the BDO then, so I can’t comment.”