She sweeps to president’s chair with elan

The swearing-in ceremony at the Pathanapuram block panchayat was unlike any other as it witnessed A. Anandavalli who has been working as cleaning staff there for nearly a decade taking the reigns of the local body.

Elected from the Thalavoor division, the 46-year-old took charge as the president on Wednesday.

She said she was in for the biggest surprise of her life when the party leadership proposed her name for the position. “My candidature was not much of a surprise and I was confident about the electoral outcome too. I was not expecting this, but today is one of the happiest days in my life and I am well aware of the huge responsibility handed over to me,” said Ms. Anandavalli after the swearing-in ceremony.

In the 13-member block panchayat, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has has seven seats and the United Democratic Front (UDF) six.

A branch committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Ms. Anandavalli could not continue her education after pre-degree and in the 90s she had worked as a pre-primary teacher and ayah. She joined the panchayat office as a part-time sweeper in 2011 and till 2017 her salary was a meager ₹2,000. “It was hiked to ₹6,000 three years ago. Though I was taken as a cleaning staff, I used to do the work of office attendant as well,” she said.

Learning the ropes

The block panchayat might be a familiar place for her, but Ms. Anandavalli said her initial days would be dedicated to learning the ropes. “I have seen how the office functions, but I will have to learn the official procedures and paperwork. Also, I will have to study about the issues that require immediate attention,” she said.

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