11 March 2019
Bhubaneswar: 70 lakh empowered women in 7 lakh self help groups (SHGs) across Odisha have achieved a new identity since the successful implementation of Mission Shakti scheme from 2001 onwards. While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the face of the scheme, little known fact is that daughter of Kendrapara soil Sujata Rout Karthikeyan has taken the program forward in the last one year. As the director of the scheme, she is responsible for making several women in rural Odisha self-sufficient and independent.
In the program that was held in Kendrapara on Sunday, Rs 1 crore was granted to the SHG women for a Mission Shakti Bhawan in the district. Rs 15,000 seed money was also provided to several newly formed SHGs. Many block-level Mahasanghs (federations) also received Rs 25 lakh revolving fund assistance. As the women received monetary help for their small local businesses to prosper, they got teary-eyed on hearing Sujata make the announcements. She also informed the ecstatic crowd that SHG women could avail loans in zero interest loans and would be digitally empowered soon.
Hailing from Pattamundai, Sujata holds a master’s degree in international politics and was the collector of Sundergarh district before being transfered to Cuttack. Despite being the wife of the powerful bureaucrat VK Pandian, she holds her own ground and has created a fan following by her efficient pro-people activities. Some SHG women from the same area beamed proudly and said, “We are extremely happy. She is the daughter of this soil and our pride. She is popular and friendly with the locals. We support her in all her endeavors and would like to see her in the forefront in the upcoming elections.”
As soon as CM Naveen Patnaik announced on Sunday that he was committed in sending 33 per cent women to the Parliament from Odisha, a ray of hope glimmered in the crowd. With rumors doing the rounds that Sujata might be fielded as a Lok Sabha candidate, the crowd’s expectation of seeing her in the forefront of politics might just come true. However, there has been no official confirmation on this matter from the ruling Biju Janata Dal yet.