Droupadi Murmu Set To Enter The ‘Political Firsts’ Scripted By Women From Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The election of Droupadi Murmu, who hails from Odisha and has been a governor of Jharkhand, as the 15th President of India is a foregone conclusion with numbers stacked in the favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Once elected, the BJP leader will become the first Odia and first tribal to occupy the top constitutional post. Earlier, she had made history with her appointment as the ninth and the first woman Governor of the state at the age of 59 in 2015.

Here’s a list of firsts by women from Odisha in the sphere of politics:

Nandini Satpathy

Odisha’s first woman Chief Minister

She was born on June 9, 1931, and grew up in Pithapur, Cuttack. In 1951, she was imprisoned. In jail, she met activist Devendra Satpathy whom she later married.

After Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966, she appointed her as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. She was elected to the Upper House.

Nandini returned to Odisha in 1972 and became the CM. She was the Odisha CM from June 1972 to December 1976 and was known as the ‘Iron Lady of Odisha’.

Basanta Manjari Devi

Odisha’s first woman minister

Born in 1900 into the royal family of Nilgiri, Basanta Manjari Devi was the daughter of King Shyam Chandra Mardaraj Harichandan. She married Prince Biranchi Narayan Singhdeo of Ranapur in 1928. After her son Brajendra Chandra Singhdeo Bajradhar Narendra Mohapatra became the king of Ranapur in 1945, she got the status of Rajmata.

After the Princely states merged with Odisha, Basanta Manjari Devi contested the elections from Ranapur region in 1952 and won. She was appointed Deputy Minister of Health in the Congress ministry under Nabakrushna Choudhury.

Sarala Devi

Odisha’s first woman MLA

Sarala Devi joined the Non-Cooperation Movement during the Indian freedom struggle in 1921.

She was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and strived hard to root out social evils and uplift the status of women. She was also the first Odia woman to be selected as a delegate to the Indian National Congress.

In independent India, she was the first woman to become a member of the Odisha Legislative Assembly. She was also the first female Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Rama Devi

Odisha’s first woman politician

She was born in 1899 in the small village of Satyabhamapur near Cuttack. She did not get proper education and was married off at the age of 15 to Gopabandhu Chowdhury.

She and her husband joined the Indian Independence movement in 1921. She was highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and used to go from village to village to encourage women to join the Independence movement. Others who had an influence on her were Jai Prakash Narayan, Vinoba Bhave and her uncle Madhusudan Das.

In 1921, she met Gandhiji and with her husband joined the Non-Cooperation Movement. The same year they joined the Indian National Congress and started wearing khadi. In the year 1930, she took an active part in the Salt Satyagraha in Odisha.

She and her colleagues were arrested in November 1930 and put in different jails by the British. She was arrested several times with other women freedom fighters like Sarala Devi and Malati Choudhury and sent to jail.

During the Quit India Movement of 1942, the entire family of Rama Devi including her husband were arrested.

Jayanti Patnaik

Odisha’s first woman to enter Lok Sabha and first Chairperson of National Commission for Women

Jayanti Patnaik, a wife of late Odisha Chief Minister JB Patnaik, was elected to the Lok Sabha from Cuttcak constituency vacated by her husband in 1981. Born in 1932 in Aska, Ganjam, she was the daughter of renowned freedom fighter Niranjan Patnaik.

Sushri Nibedita Pradhan

Odisha’s first woman Mayor

The BJP leader was elected Mayor of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) in 2003, becoming the first woman from the state to be elected to the post.

Saraswati Hembrom

Odisha’s first tribal woman minister

She was elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly on a Congress ticket. She was a Deputy Minister in JB Patnaik’s Cabinet and was later elevated to the minister of state. She joined the BJD in 2009.



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