Chandigar: The Sarpanch ruler Burger queen set for Haryana village

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Chandigarh: Till a few days ago, Rekha Rani, 21, was happily frying burgers at a fast food chain in Chandigarh's glitzy Elante Mall. However, this daughter of a farm labourer has now become one of Haryana's youngest woman sarpanchs.

Rekha's achievement is special also because she has become the first ever sarpanch of the sleepy hamlet in Fatehabad - Chabla Mori.Earlier, three small villages -Chabla Mori, Salem Khera and Dhani Miyan Khan -together formed one panchayat. It was only this year that they contested the elections separately. Rekha defeated her rival Nirmal Kaur by 219 votes on Sunday in the first phase of the polls. The village has 1,087 votes, of which Rekha polled 610.

With the minimum education clause in place and the Chabla Mori seat reserved for women, Rekha decided to contest and came up trumps. The new sarpanch has studied up to class XII and had been working at the burger outlet for the past eight months. She had taken leave only for the past week to campaign in the village and will give up a monthly salary of Rs 11,600 that job got her.She says she would have continued the job to supplement her family's meagre income, but her father Bansi Lal insisted that she work full time for the village and concentrate on women's issues. Unfazed by the spotlight, Rekha says calmly that her father pushed her into politics.

"I was inspired by Sushma Bhadu, our former sarpanch from the time the three villages had one panchayat," says the father. "She successfully fought against the centuries old tradition of `ghunghat' in rural Fatehabad and got many women out of the veil. She was also conferred the women panchayat leader's award of the Centre in 2013. If a seven-class dropout like her could bring about change, my daughter can be a role model by encouraging girls in rural areas to study ."

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