From US to UP, to be a village chief

California-return engineer to contest panchayat poll

From US to UP, to be a village chief

They are taken by surprise, when a modest Zaidi, in an almost rustic manner, requests them with folded hands to caste their votes in his favour in the elections for the village “pradhan” (chief).

Zaidi, who quit his lucrative job in California, USA, and returned to his native village of Motikpur, explains to a perplexed voter that he was one of the candidates for the post of village panchayat “pradhan”.

The villagers would be electing their “pradhan” on Thursday. Panchayat elections are being held in UP these days in which over 61 thousand village chiefs would be elected. A former Merchant Navy engineer, Zaidi had settled abroad about 40 years ago. His daughter is also settled in the US.

“I came back to my village as I wanted to serve the people of the place where I have spent so many years... I have played in the narrow by-lanes of the village,” an emotional Zaidi says.

An engineer by profession, Zaidi has several ambitious plans for his village, which he would be implementing, provided he is elected as a pradhan. “I want to develop Motikpur as a model village so that it becomes an example for others,” he says.

On whether he is surprised by the high pitched elections and canvassing, he said he was initially surprised but later got himself adjusted and now he himself is engaged in a high voltage campaign. While modernity may be an asset for Zaidi, his opponents were exploiting this very fact.

“How can a man, who was away from the village for so many years, can serve the people... he (Zaidi) does not know  anything about the village conditions,” Zaidi’s opponents tell the voters.

The villagers, however, likes Zaidi’s modesty. “Despite being in the US for so many years, he has not forgotten the Indian culture,” said an electorate, who confided that Zaidi stood a very good chance of winning the polls.

While a win would certainly more than satisfy Zaidi, he plans to stay in the village permanently even if he loses. “I will still be doing whatever is possible for the development of the village,” he said.

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