Committed to women's emancipation, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief and Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced a Self Help Group (SHG) worker Pramila Bisoi as the candidate from Aska Lok Sabha constituency from where he had started his political career 20 years back.
Pramila is a grass root-level worker and is associated with Sata Sankha SHG of Nalabanta in Ganjam district. The SHG, under her leadership, has been providing mid-day meals to schoolchildren of Chermaria Upper Primary School.
Married to Banchhanidhi Bisoi and working for the last 18 years, Pramila is a farmer with less than one acre of land. Her elder son, Dilip, is a tea seller at Cheramaria village while her younger son, Ranjan, has a bike repairing garage. Her two daughters, Runu and Sulata, are married. The family grows paddy and ragi, and has an estimated monthly income between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000.
Despite all odds, Pramila has been instrumental in forming numerous women SHGs and empowering women in her area. Due to her efforts, her village has been declared open-defecation free. Not just that, Pramila who has worked for environment protection, is an active member of the Peacock Protection Samiti at Pakidi hill near her village and has been awarded the Prakriti Mitra and Prakriti Bandhu. She is also a poet.
Committed to women's empowerment in politics, the Chief Minister said that it would be "personally very heartening" for him to see Pramila enter Parliament.
"We launched 'Mission Shakti' 18 years ago for empowering the women of our state. Today, it has grown way beyond our expectations and transformed into a silent revolution comprising 70 lakh women across the state," he said.
Announcing her as BJD's candidate from Aska Lok Sabha constituency, Patnaik added, "In a humble tribute to the lakhs of women in our 'Mission Shakti' movement, we in Biju Janata Dal have declared Pramila Bisoi, SHG leader, to be the Lok Sabha candidate from the Aska constituency. Incidentally, Aska is the place where I had started my own political career 20 years ago."
Pramila is a "grass root leader in her own right", said the Chief Minister adding, "She has used her leadership to influence and create awareness on wide-ranging issues like sanitation, vaccination, institutional delivery, environment protection, literacy, etc."
He further said, "It is my firm belief that empowerment cannot be compartmentalised - it has to be holistic. Social, economic and political empowerment must go hand in hand. Women must be represented in the highest fora of decision making in the country. Bisoi represents Mission Shakti - the women's SHG movement of Odisha."
On March 10, the Chief Minister at a public rally, organised by Mission Shakti, in Kendrapara declared that Odisha would send 33 per cent women candidates to Parliament.
It is not just Pramila who has been fielded in the Lok Sabha polls, Patnaik who was briefing the media at Naveen Niwas in Bhubaneswar, also announced names of two more women candidates out of nine Lok Sabha constituencies declared today. The two more women candidates are Kausalya Hikaka (Koraput) and Sunita Biswal (Sundargarh). While Kausalya is the wife of sitting Koraput MP Jhina Hikaka, Sunita is the daughter of former Odisha Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal.