Kollam: 46-year-old A. Anandavalli, fondly referred to as “Valli Chechi”, had worked as a part-time sweeper at panchayath office at Pathanapuram block in south Kerala’s Kollam district for nearly 10 years. A Dalit woman, Valli’s job included clearing cobwebs and dusting chairs. On Wednesday, she returned to the same office as its president.
In the recently concluded local body elections of Kerala, in which the Left Democratic Front (LDF) emerged victorious, Valli was elected as an LDF candidate and has now been elevated as the block president. While being escorted to her seat on Wednesday, she expressed gratitude to her party for giving this opportunity. “Only my party can do such things. I am really indebted to it,” she said.
“I was a bit nervous. But my party leaders and well-wishers prodded me to take up the new responsibility. I will do my best to make by block panchayat a role model. My responsibility is heavy now. I will work hard to make life better for all people in my block.” she added.
She had competed from the Thalavoor ward, which had been reserved for Scheduled Caste members and won by a clear margin of 650 votes. In that panchayath, the LDF alliance had won seven seats while the UDF won the remaining six out of the 13 seats.
Anandavalli’s appointment comes close on the heels of many other firsts in the country. Arya Rajendran, a 21-year-old college student and LDF representative was just made Thiruvananthapuram corporation’s mayor. She is now the country’s youngest-ever mayor.