biswabrata goswami
MIDNAPORE, 22 JUNE: The Trinamul Congress has fielded women candidates in all 12 seats of a gram panchayat at Goaltore in West Midnapore district. This is perhaps for the first time in Bengal that a political party has fielded women candidates in all seats of a panchayat and it is expected to be ruled by all women members in the new panchayat after the ensuing panchayat polls.
Goaltore remained virtually inaccessible to the administration owing to the Maoist menace and panchayat officials were not allowed to undertake any development activities during those turbulent times.
Womenfolk, especially from the tribal community, earlier backed Maoists to fight the CPI-M. They had played a pivotal role in launching several movements against the CPI-M and organised many rallies. However, with the change of guard they switched their allegiance to the Trinamul Congress which had helped the state government drive out the Maoists from Junglemahal. “To honour the activities of women in Goaltore and in keeping with chief minister Mamata Banerjee&’s policy of 50 per cent reservation of seats for women in panchayats, we decided to field women candidates in all seats of Goaltore panchayat. If the candidates win the polls, it will be the first panchayat which will be administered solely by women,” said Mr Dulal Mondol, the Trinamul Congress Goaltore block president. Mr Mondol said: “We’ve already won three seats uncontested. For the rest nine seats our women candidates will contest directly against the CPI-M candidates… We hope we will win all seats.”
Of the 12 seats, the Trinamul Congress has won Umrapata, Kerumara and Purbo Malisai seats; tough fights are on the cards in Kankraisole, Dumurdiha, Balibandh and Kadra seats, a political observer said.
Mr Mrigen Maity, the Trinamul Congress district president, said: “Fielding more women candidates would mean our party will have a large number of  representatives in panchayats. Besides, corruption among women is less… so they do a better job as people&’s representatives in panchayats.”