Kendrapara, April 8 (LocalWire): The all women self-help groups with a significant presence in all villages in Kendrapara have emerged as the new vote bank in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
There is hardly a village that does not have an SHG with at least 20 members each.
‘The importance of the SHGs has increased with 33 per cent Lok Sabha seats being reserved for women by the ruling party. This is perceived in all villages across the district.
Women SHG members are being tapped by sundry political parties and candidates,’ said Suchitra Jena, secretary of Ma Durga SHG of village Iswarapur under Rajnagar block in the district.
‘Candidates supported by SHGs have a good chance of getting elected to the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly despite the lure of money and liquor by their opponents.
A simple calculation shows how the support of the SHGs can be decisive in the upcoming elections. A candidate for the Assembly needs to get around one lakh votes to get elected.
In Kendrapada Assembly segment around 30,000 SHG members in 2500 villages and their male family members command over half the votes required by the candidate of their choice. SHGs have extended support to candidates with integrity and interest in public service,’ said Senhalata Das the president of Ma Mangala SHG of Baro village.
‘We formed a SHG comprising 15 women in 2008 and developed the art of making golden grass, locally called kaincha crafts.
Golden grass hats, baskets, hand-fans, table-mats, flower-pots of Baro are now well known and in great demand. Around 300 women of Baro and its nearby areas have been eking out their livelihoods by making kaincha craft items.
Banks also provide us loan and we will vote in favour BJD candidates in the coming polls,’ said Das.
Asha Mandal from Suniti village has only six gunthas of land. She lives with her two children and husband who is a fisherman. Studied up to class VIII, she is also member of Ma Laxmi SHG of the sea-side village.
‘We cultivate mushrooms after getting financial help from the government and I earn around Rs 4000 per month. We are work hard to bring back the BJD to power,’ said Asha.
With the support of SHGs, the ruling party hopes to win the coming polls since it has the greatest influence over them as they are mostly government-funded.
The SHG has gained in importance over the years as the government implements many of its schemes through them.
After all, the financial benefits that could accrue by way of additional loans and subsidies are large, said Dhiren Sahoo, a senior BJD leader and chairman of Kendrapara municipality.
On the other hand Chinmaya Beura, the president of the district unit of Congress Party said, ‘Large number of women will vote for the Congress as the law and order situation is bad in the state and the crime graphs against women is rising under the BJD rule.’
‘BJP provided cooking gas connection to households and majority of women will cast their votes in favour of our party,’ said Durodhan Sahoo the president of the district unit of BJP.