Hyderabad, Dec 7 (IANS): From a gun-wielding Maoist to lawyer to MLA to now a minister in Telangana. She is Danasari Anasuya, popularly known as Seethakka.
It was an emotional moment when she was invited to take oath as the minister at L. B. Stadium in the presence of thousands of people.
Loud cheers greeted her as she made her way to the dais. She paused for a moment, responded with folded hands before Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan signalled her to start reading the oath.
After taking oath, she shook hands with Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, who treats her as his sister.
Seethakka then went to Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia Gandhi and sought their blessings by touching their feet. Sonia Gandhi stood up to hug and congratulate her.
She also shook hands with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
In the just-concluded Assembly elections, the 52-year-old was re-elected from Mulug constituency, reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
Hailing from the Koya tribe, Seethakka had joined Maoist movement at an early age and was heading an armed squad active in the same tribal belt.
She participated in many gunfights with the police and lost her husband and brother in encounters.
Disillusioned with the movement, she surrendered to the police under a general amnesty plan in 1994.
With this, life took a new turn for Seethakka, who pursued her studies and secured a law degree. She also practised as an advocate at a court in Warangal.
She later joined Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and contested from Mulug in 2004 elections. However, facing a Congress wave, she finished runner-up.
However, in 2009 she won the election from the same constituency. She finished third in the 2014 polls.
In 2017, she quit TDP to join Congress and made a strong comeback in 2018 by wresting the seat despite the statewide sweep by TRS (now BRS) Seethakka hit the headlines with her humanitarian work in remote villages in her constituency during Covid-19 pandemic.
Carrying a load of essentials on her shoulders, she walked through the forests, rocky terrain and crossed rivulets to help the needy during the ongoing lockdown.
Having operated in the same forest as a gun-wielding Maoist rebel in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she was not unfamiliar with the terrain.
The only difference, in her own words, was that as a Maoist had a gun in her hand and during the pandemic she carried food and other essential commodities.
Last year, she completed her PhD in political sciences from Osmania University. The tribal MLA did her PhD in social exclusion and deprivation of migrant tribals of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh – a case study of Gotti Koya tribes in Warangal and Khammam district.
"In my childhood I never thought I would be a Naxalite, when I am Naxalite I never thought I would be a lawyer, when I am lawyer I never thought I would be MLA, when I am MLA I never thought I will pursue my PhD. Now you can call me Dr Anusuya Seethakka PhD in political science," Seethakka had tweeted after completing PhD.
"Serving people & gaining knowledge is my habit. I will never stop doing it until my last breath," she said.