Kollam (Kerala): When A Anandavalli entered the Pathanapuram block panchayat in Kerala nearly decade ago as a part-time sweeper, she would never have dreamt she would rise to head the local body one day.
Symbolising empowerment of oppressed classes, the 46-year old CPI(M) member belonging to Scheduled caste has become the president of the panchayat after the recent local body elections.
"I never thought that I would occupy such a high post, that too in an office where I had been doing a part-time sweeper's job," Anandavalli, a mother of two, said.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), which won majority of the seats in the recently held civic polls, proposed her name for the Pathanapuram block panchayat president's post.
Fielded by CPI(M), Anandavalli had won the SC general seat with a comfortable margin from the Thalavoor division in the polls.
In the 13-member block panchayat, the LDF won seven seats while the main opposition, the Congress-led United Democratic Front got six.
After being elected as the LDF leader in the council, she took charge as the president on December 30.
The president's post was reserved for SC/woman.
"My villagers are very happy," she said when asked about the response from the family, friends and locals about her achievement.
Anandavalli belongs to a CPI(M) family. Her husband Mohanan is a local committee member of the party.
She said all officials in the block office, whom she used to serve tea till last week, were also "very happy" to see her take up the top post of the block panchayat.
"They all had encouraged me to contest the elections. I was a bit reluctant then. It was because of their persuasion, I decided to fight the election. They all supported me," said Anandavalli, who is a branch committee member of the CPI(M).
Anandavalli said her focus now is to pick up the basics of administration and serve the people better.
When she worked as a part-time sweeper, she used to do the job of an attendant also.
She used to enter the hall where project review meetings were held to serve tea and water for the then president, officials and council members.
"I used to listen to the points being raised by the members during the review meeting then. I had a lot of ideas about it. Now, I will study everything-- from the official procedures to the necessary paperwork," she said.
Anandavalli, who studied up to pre-degree, said she would be able to do justice to the post with the help of her party colleagues and the officials.
"I hope I will be able to do good work for the people who elected us. That is my only prayer," she said.
Anandavalli joined the panchayat office as a part-time sweeper in 2011.
She used to draw a meagre Rs 2,000 till 2017. It was hiked to Rs 6,000 later.