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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

With growing age comes different hurdles in life. Elderly persons generally develop health issues and have a lower level of enthusiasm as compared to their younger counterparts. The retirement age has been determined for almost all works. However, some defy all odds and standout. 

Politics has no bar for age as some candidates for the forthcoming Panchayat polls in Odisha have proven. They are now firing from all cylinders in preparation for the three-tier rural elections. These senior citizens have stepped into the political arena with a zeal to serve society despite advanced age.

Sexagenarian Brundaban Tripathy, a Congress Zilla Parishad (ZP) candidate for Zone 1 of Nandahandi Block in Nabarangpur district is giving a tough fight to several other young contestants during the  campaign trail. 66-year-old Tripathy is ready for the battle ahead to take forward the ideology of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His enthusiasm and spirit to work for the betterment of society can be assumed from his campaigning style.

"BJP and BJD candidates can't defeat me. I am standing for the farmers, daily wagers and labourers," said Tripathy.  

Similarly, another ZP candidate from Zone 1 of Biridi Block in Jagatsinghpur district is Natabar Palei. The elderly person is contesting on a CPI(M) ticket for the post. Palei is hopeful to emerge victorious as he has raised his voice on umpteen number of times for the rights of labourers, farmers and daily wagers and stood strong with them all along.

"If I win the Zilla Parishad post, I will work towards the betterment of the poor in the society," said Palei.

Premananda Raut's story  is no different. Raut is contesting for Samiti member position from Chaulia Panchayat under Sadar Block of Dhenkanal district. A former teacher Raut engaged himself in social service after his retirement in 2011. The retired teacher aims to become a public representative and continue his service to society.

Raut, sharing his aspiration, said, "I have got the opportunity after 10 years to work closely for the betterment of the society. I will bring back smiles on the faces of one and all. I will set a bright example." 

It is not just about male candidates. Several female candidates also have chipped in for different positions in the Panchayat elections.

Bamini Maniaka, a Sarpanch candidate from Keliguda panchayat in Rayagada district, though is not new to the political arena, has overcome the challenges often faced by people of her age. Maniaka, who twice emerged victorious as Ward member and Sarpanch, is quite active and is devoted to serving the people leaving her family behind. Even voters are hopeful that she will come victorious for the third term and continue her selfless service towards society. 

Maniaka says, "I will work for the society and villagers till my last breath. I wish every person in the district stays happy."

Another contestant Mini Jena, who is over 95 years entered the arena of politics even at this ripe age. She is contesting for the Ward member position from Ward No- 4 of Tesinga Panchyat under Bhandaripokhari block of Bhadrak district. 

Jena strongly says that she has helped over 2000 pregnant women during delivery and is well-known in the region. So, getting votes won't be an issue for her, she feels.

However, the nonagenarian aims to work for the betterment of her Ward during her final days.

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