A sojourn from a tribal hamlet to the power echelons of Kerala politics
When the newly elected UDF Govt in Kerala led by Oommen Chandy with 13 new ministers took the oath last day it saw the emergence of Jayalakshmi, the youngest minister in the cabinet and the first tribal minister in Kerala. Though it was only her fourth visit to Kerala’s capital city,it turned out to be a historical moment for the 29-year-old Jayalakshmi hailing from a remote hamlet in Wayanad.
Born in the valiant Kurichiya tribe, the frontline warriors of Pazhassi Raja, Jayalakshmi is an expert archer. Living in the traditional joint family of The ‘Palott Tharavadu’ where 5 families live together even now, Jayalakshmi is a graduate in English Literature and has always been interested in politics unlike her two younger sisters who are married and have opted to be house wives.
A committed Panchayat ward member of the remote Thavinjal Village in Wayanad , she always tried to be at the beck and call of the needy and to alleviate the woes of common man. Her passion for social work grabbed the attention of none other than Rahul Gandhi, who had been to Wayanad scouting for new and young faces for the Youth Congress. When the elections came, as expected her name featured in the list submitted by Rahul.
A former district secretary of KSU, the students wing of the Congress, Jayalakshmi has also served in various responsible positions like member of state level representatives’ committee of Mahila Congress.
Eldest of three daughters of Ammini and Palott Kunhaman who is a a mail overseer at the Subdivisional Post Office, near Mananthavadi, Jayalakshmi was defying the conventions when she decided to enter politics. In her tribe, girls are habitually married off at a very early age and when she postponed her marriage, it created a few anxious moments for her closely knit family.
Hailing from one of the most backward districts and tribes of Kerala, the yeoman service of Jayalakshim in the days ahead will make a quality change in the live styles of the people of Wayanad in particular. She will indeed be a role model for scores of women from other backward areas to come out into the power corridors and to do something worthwhile for their community.