Uma Singh, a village level entrepreneur (VLE) under the Common Service Centre (CSC) has recently won the Panchayat elections from Bikaspur Block at Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh).

She is not the only one who has started a political career through running a CSC in the State and there were around 60 VLEs from UP who contested Panchayat elections last year (April-May) and won also.

CSCs (under the Ministry of Electronics and IT) are the access points for delivery of public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from a host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country.

“We opened a CSC outlet in the village and started providing every service that the government provides online with nominal charges. Villagers valued our role in making them aware of the convenience and benefits of all these schemes. It was they who pushed me into contesting elections... They said I was doing better service to them than the Gram Pradhan (previous),” Uma Singh told BusinessLine.

A unanimous win

She said there are around 2,200 eligible voters in the village and around 1,700 people voted. She was among the seven candidates who contested the elections and won with a huge margin.

Singh, who is a graduate, said the local government authorities are also happy with the social work she has done for the village including renovation of schools, public toilets and park for the villagers.

Apart from Singh, there are many women candidates – either they themselves are VLEs or a wife or mother of a VLE – who won the elections from different districts such as Basti, Mirzapur, Ghazipur and Sultanpur.

Some of them had a political dream, but were pushed by villagers to contest for the betterment of their villages. And, not only in UP, the same trend emerged from other parts of the country too. Like in Chhattisgarh, where 49 VLEs were elected as Sarpanch/ Pradhan, Upsarpanch or Parshad.

One interesting example is also from Punjab (Hoshiarpur) elections recently where a VLE, Neelam Rani, has won in Assembly Elections representing the Aam Aadmi Party.