A 27-year-old speech and hearing-impaired man is likely to become the sarpanch of Dansari village panchayat in Madhya Pradesh.
If this happens, he would be the first deaf and mute person to get elected to the post in the country, a social activist claimed on Sunday.
Dansari village, having a population of nearly 1,000 and located about 40 km from Indore city, was recently given the status of gram panchayat, sub-divisional magistrate Pratul Sinha told PTI.
The post of sarpanch in the newly-constituted Dansari panchayat has been reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category, after taking out draw of lots on the rotational method basis, he said.
This reservation process has suddenly changed the fate of Lalu, the speech and hearing-impaired Scheduled Tribe resident of the village.
While the gram panchayat polls schedule in the state has not yet been announced, residents of Dansari say it is almost certain that Lalu will get elected unopposed as sarpanch in the elections as he is the only voter from ST category in the village.
Lalu, whose parents died when he was a child, has also made up his mind to take the poll plunge in his village.
The 27-year-old man, a bachelor, has been living with a family in the village since last 20 years and doing farming.
Social activist Gyanendra Purohit, who interacted with Lalu in sign language, said, "He is confident of himself and says he will file nomination papers for the post of sarpanch in the panchayat elections."
Excited over the thought of becoming sarpanch, Lalu wants to work particularly for the welfare of farmers and also contribute to development by getting new roads constructed in his village, said Purohit, who has been working for the rights of deaf and mute people.
"If Lalu becomes sarpanch after the panchayat polls, he will be the first speech and hearing-impaired candidate in the country to be elected to the post. His victory will make the voice of people from the deaf and mute community stronger in democracy," the activist said.
The villagers are also running a campaign to make Lalu the sarpanch of their panchayat.
Rahul Songara, a local youth associated with the campaign, said, "We want Lalu to be the sarpanch. He may not be very well-educated, but looking at his behaviour, we are confident that as sarpanch, he will work for the development of the village."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)