The results of Tamil Naduâ€™s rural local body elections, held on December 27 and 30, are coming in steadily as of January 3, the counting for which began the day before on January 2. The elections this time is the first local body polls in the state to have 50% reservation for women.
Tamil Nadu became the 17th State in the country to legislate 50% reservation for its women in local panchayats and in urban bodies. The Amendment to the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994 was made in 2016 when Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister, increasing reservation for women from 33% to 50%.
The move for reservation is seen as a positive step towards womenâ€™s empowerment.
TNM takes a look at some of the victorious women candidates:
Students lead the way
Saranya Kumari, a 21-year-old student, emerged victorious from Coimbatore. Securing 137 votes out of the total 470 votes in ward 8 of the panchayat, Saranya Kumari has now been elected as the Ward member at Aathu Pollachi Panchayat in Anaimalai Union in Coimbatore district. A Dalit woman with physical disabilities, Saranya is pursuing MA Tamil Literature at Udumalai Government Arts College. According to reports, MGR Nagar residents (Saranyaâ€™s area) did not field any other independent candidates, after having seen her involvement in social activities over the past three years.
Another 21-year-old student, J Sandihya Rani, doing her second-year BBA at Christ University in Bengaluru has been elected Panchayat President at Kaatunayanak Doddi village in Krishnagiri district. Sandhiya Raniâ€™s father Jaya Sarathy was Panchayat President in 2011. Sandhiya who won by a margin of 210, securing 1170 votes on the whole, stated that she wanted to focus on education for all in her village.
A sweeping victory in Virudhunagar
G Saraswathiâ€™s win is nothing short of an inspiring story. This 49-year-old who is a conservancy worker won by a margin of 302 votes as Panchayat President at Watrap Panchayat union in Virudhunagar district. Sawaswathi secured a total of 1113 votes. She has reportedly promised to fix drinking water issues in her Panchayat besides building proper toilets.
Making history in Pudukottai and Namakkal
Kasthuri Duraisamyâ€™s win as President at Kovilvasal village in Esugupatti Panchayat in Pudukottai district is considered phenomenal. At 27, she has now become the villageâ€™s first woman President. According to reports, Kasthuri has said that she would focus on laying roads in her village in addition to making sure that all the government schemes are implemented in the village.
30-year-old transgender woman Riaâ€™s win as Union councillor in Namakkal district came with loud cheering on Thursday. Representing DMK in the local body polls, Ria won by a massive margin of 954 votes. Speaking to TNM after her win, Riad had said, â€śI first want to address the drinking water issues in my ward following which we need to focus on proper road and transportation facilities.â€ť
Age no bar in Madurai
For A Veerammal, age is no deterrent from running for Panchayat President. The 80-year-oldâ€™s win after having contested twice before shows just how much her villagers trust in her spirit. Veerammal was leading against the seven men since counting began. Veerammal won by 195 votes as Panchayat President at Arittapatti panchayat of Melur block in Madurai.