Kerala: From sweeper to panchayat president, a scheduled caste woman’s incredible journey

Anandavalli took charge as the president on December 30, after being elected as the LDF leader in the council.

Symbolising empowerment of oppressed classes, a 46-year-old woman, a CPM member, has become the president of the Panchayat, following the recent local body elections in Kerala.

Nearly a decade back, when the woman, A Anandavalli, who belongs to the scheduled caste and is a CPM member, entered the Pathanapuram block Panchayat in Kerala as a part-time sweeper, little did she know that she would rise to become the president of the local body one day.

“I never thought that I would occupy such a high post, that too in an office where I had been doing a part-time sweeper’s job,” The New Indian Express quoted Anandavalli, a mother of two, as saying.

The CPM-led LDF won the majority of the seats in the recently held civic polls. It proposed her name for the Pathanapuram block panchayat president’s post. Anandavalli, fielded by CPM, had won the SC general seat with a margin from the Thalavoor division in the polls. While the LDF won seven seats, the Congress-led UDF — the main opposition — got six, in the 13-member block panchayat.

Anandavalli took charge as the president on December 30, after being elected as the LDF leader in the council. The president’s post was reserved for SC/woman.

Upon being asked about the response from the family, friends and locals about her achievement, Anandavalli, who belongs to a CPM family, said: “My villagers are very happy.”

Anandavalli’s husband Mohanan is a local committee member of the party.

Talking about all the officials in the block, Anandavalli said: “They all had encouraged me to contest the elections. I was a bit reluctant then. It was because of their persuasion, I decided to fight the election. They all supported me.”

While working as a sweeper, she also did the job of an attendant. To serve tea and water for the then president, she would often have to enter the hall where project review meetings were held.

“I used to listen to the points being raised by the members during the review meeting then. I had a lot of ideas about it. Now, I will study everything– from the official procedures to the necessary paperwork,” she said.

“I hope I will be able to do good work for the people who elected us. That is my only prayer,” Anandavalli, who joined the panchayat office as a part-time sweeper in 2011, added.

While she drew a meager Rs 2,000 till 2017, it was later hiked to Rs 6,000.

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