Minu Karjee, 35, a gram panchayat member from Alipuduar district whose honesty villagers vouch for, has migrated to Bangalore for a better-paying job of a security guard.
Minu won the Shishu Jhumra gram panchayat under Madarihat-Birpara block of Alipurduar district as a BJP candidate in 2018 and later switched over to Trinamul.
“Throughout her five-year term, she served the area with utmost honesty and did nothing for her personal uplift. Her home is a testimony to her honesty,” said a villager who did not want to be identified.
Minu used to stay in a two-room house built by her father-in-law.
“She did not even build her own house in these five years of office. During heavy rain, water enters her room. One of the doors in the room is covered with a tin shed and the other with bamboo. During rains, water seeps into the room through the damaged roof,” the villager added.
Minu’s father-in-law has a room for himself. The other room is shared Minu, her husband Suresh and their two daughters Nisha, 12, and Manisha, 4. Suresh is jobless.
As a gram panchayat member, Minu got Rs 3,000 a month. As an honest member, this income proved tough to run her family.
That’s why she said she decided to be a migrant worker. Three months back, Minu headed to Bangalore and landed a security guard’s job at a private hospital in Bangalore. “I am earning Rs 17,000 per month here,” she said, speaking over the phone from Bangalore.
Minu added: “When I got the (panchayat election) ticket I decided I would work honestly for the people, I had dreams of constructing roads in our area and helping the poor. But my own life was difficult. I had to go across the (panchayat) area and finances were an issue as my husband does not earn.”
She said that she had borrowed a sum of Rs 70,000 sometime back.
“I have to repay the loan, so I had no option but to leave for Bangalore in search of a better-paying job. As a mother it is very painful for me to be away from my young daughters,” the elected leader added.
Back home, Suresh is covering for Minu so that villagers do not feel the absence of a gram panchayat member.
“When needed, he comes to our homes and does jobs like submitting documents for old-age pension. He also shares information from the panchayat office with us,” said a villager.
Minu said the villagers’ demands are few. “They just want good roads and timely ration. Their demands are simple,” said Minu.
Minu, however, rued that she could not get good roads made in her area. But when asked why, she did not elaborate.
The gram panchayat member is not sure when she would return home again.
The rural polls are around the corner again.
However, Minu is sure she won’t contest the gram panchayat polls anymore.
“It is difficult for a woman whose husband is unemployed to work sincerely only in the panchayat without taking up another job to pay the bills,” she explained the reason behind her decision.