Annapurna Devi: From homemaker to central minister

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Ranchi, Jun 9 (PTI) Politics was never on the cards for homemaker Annapurna Devi, who was sworn in as Union Minister in the Narendra Modi government on Sunday.

Her life took a dramatic turn when her husband, Ramesh Yadav, an RJD legislator, died suddenly in 1998.

Thrust into the political arena by fate, she embarked on an arduous journey down an untrodden path.

Now, she has secured a seat in the Modi 3.0 government, a move seen as the BJP’s bold strategy to consolidate a sizable OBC vote bank ahead of the crucial Assembly elections later this year.

This unexpected rise to power has set political circles abuzz with speculation and intrigue.

Her first ministerial berth in 2021 had already raised many eyebrows. To outsiders, it seemed a surprising choice, but to insiders, it was a masterstroke—a calculated bid to solidify the OBC vote bank in Jharkhand.

Her influence among the OBCs extends beyond the mica-belt of Koderma, reaching across the entire state, making her a pivotal player in the political landscape.

In 2021, Devi, once a close aide of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, was inducted into the Union government as the Minister of State for Education on July 7.

Her defection to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was a dramatic twist in her political saga.

Contesting from Koderma on the BJP's ticket, she left an indelible mark.Before her unexpected shift to the BJP, Annapurna was the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Jharkhand chief.

Her rise within the party ranks was meteoric, reflecting her growing influence as the face of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Jharkhand.

OBCs constitute over 45 percent of Jharkhand’s population, according to the last census—a statistic that underscores her political significance.

Born on February 2, 1970, into a Bengali-speaking family in Jharkhand's Dumka, she pursued her master’s degree at Ranchi University.

Her political career began in 1998 when she won a state assembly by-poll and became a member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, later serving as Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Geology in the RJD government of then undivided Bihar.

From 2005 to 2014, she served two terms in the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly.

In 2012, she was appointed a cabinet minister in Jharkhand, overseeing the Ministry of Irrigation, Women & Child Welfare, and Registration.

Her most dramatic political victory came in 2019, when she defeated Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) by a staggering margin of 4.55 lakh votes, contesting on the BJP's ticket.

This triumph was not just personal but also a testament to the intense campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP leaders.In her latest feat, Devi retained the Koderma seat by defeating CPI(ML)L's Vinod Kumar Singh by a margin of 3.77 lakh votes.

Her journey from a grieving widow to a key figure in the Union government is nothing short of a political epic, filled with unexpected turns and dramatic victories. PTI NAM SBN MNB SBN