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Gujarat: Meet Anandiben Patel, the longest serving woman MLA; or should we call Madam CM?


Anandi Ben Patel
Gandhinagar, May 21: It is not easy for a woman to struggle to the top in this male dominated world, but for Anandi Ben it was a cake walk. No, she did not have any plitical affiliations or a crorepati background, it was her sheer diligence, courage, honesty and perseverance that destiny pushed her to the top. Probably, that is her place.

The former Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may have decided to hand over Gujarat to her, but the lady is unfazed by the sight of power. She wants development the way she wants it to be, without compromises.

Early life

She struggled to get educated in a remote village of Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district. Born to a farmer family, she completed her 4th grade in the district's girls school and had to take admission in an all boys school as her school did not have further grades.

Interestingly, she was the only girl studying in a school of 700 boys. She was then shifted to Nutan Sarv Vidyalay in Visnagar in the 8th grade and was awarded the "VeerBala" award in Mehsana for her outstanding achievements in athletics.

She joined the Bhilvai College in 1960 and wa sthe only girl in first year science in the college. She completed her Masters and Bed after marriage and also took the responsibility of educating her extended family.

Entry into Politics

Her entry into politics was accidental. A teacher of the Mohniba School Vidyalaya, she showed extreme courage and reservations in ignoring all temptations and remain a teacher with the school. She came to the notice of the BJP when she jumped into the Narmada river to save two of her girl students who had tripped into the raging water.

While she refused to join the party initially, she joined it eventually seeing that politics is the only way to serve the people of the country. Associated with a number of relief, women and child welfare programs, she rose to the top, joining Rajyasabha from Gujarat in 1994. In 1998, she was appointed the Education minister in 1998. Between 2002-2012, she retained the ministry of Education, on top of Road and building and Revenue.

In 2012, she was given the Urban Development and Urban Housing and Disaster Management. At present, she is one of the longest serving women MLAs in Gujarat. She started her political journey as a Member of Rajyasabha in 1994 and moved to Gujarat during the state elections in 1998. She is currently the only Woman MLA of Gujarat to be elected 4 consecutive times. It is also the 73 year old's fourth consecutive term as a Cabinet Minister in the Government of Gujarat.

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