Rajasthan Congress MLA Divya Maderna, who represents Osian in the state Assembly, triggered a row after a video went viral in which she is seen asking a woman sarpanch to vacate a seat beside her and sit on the floor with local people.
The incident took place on March 16, when the first-time legislator had gone for a “Dhanyawaad Sabha [Thank you meeting]” in Khetasar village in Osian near Jodhpur, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
In the video, the sarpanch of Khetasar – identified as Chandu Devi – is seen sitting next to Maderna, who immediately asks her to sit on the floor. Devi then leaves the chair and goes back to the floor.
In a video statement Chandu Devi said she was left stressed by the incident. Being a woman, Chandu Devi said she did not expect such behaviour from a female public representative, PTI reported.
“I am very disappointed with the behaviour meted out to me by Maderna,” she said. “I had gone to the meeting of Maderna on the insistence of the villagers and also sat on the dais after the villagers wanted me to sit beside the MLA.”
“Chandu initially sat on the floor but then people said she should sit next to the MLA, since she is a sarpanch,” Devi’s husband Rooparam told The Indian Express. “So she then went to sit with the MLA but the MLA gestured her to go, so she left her chair and sat among the people for the rest of the sabha.” Rooparam said Devi did not protest “as she is a simple lady and did not want to disrespect the MLA, who had come to the village for the first time”.
The Congress MLA, however, alleged that the sarpanch was only a Bharatiya Janata Party worker and asked how she could be allowed to sit on the dais in a meeting organised to thank villagers who voted for the Congress. Maderna added she did not know that Chandu Devi was a sarpanch as her face was covered with a veil.
“I could not recognise her,” said Maderna. “I considered her a simple villager and thought that she had come to me on the dais with some grievance.”
A sarpanch body in Rajasthan on Tuesday demanded an apology from Maderna. “Divya must apologise for the humiliation of a female sarpanch,” said Rajasthan Sarpanch Sangh President Bhanwarlal. “If she does not do so, she should be ready to face our ire.”
Maderna defeated incumbent BJP MLA Bhera Ram Chaudhary in the Assembly elections in December. She is the daughter of jailed Congress leader Mahipal Maderna, who is in jail in the Bhanwari Devi murder case.
At least two other videos of Divya Maderna have gone viral in recent months. In a video shot in Jodhpur, she is seen pulling up a police officer and telling him that he needed to get out of his lethargic ways since a new government and MLA are in power, The Indian Express reported. In another video, she is seen pulling up the sub divisional magistrate of Jodhpur for not prioritising a work she wanted to be done.