First Woman Chief Minister in India
India, renowned as the largest democracy of the world, has undergone significant political changes since achieving independence in 1947. Within the dynamic landscape of Indian politics, the emergence of women leaders stands out as a powerful testament to breaking gender barriers. Sucheta Kriplani serves as a symbol of women’s empowerment and political leadership in India, having left an indelible mark as the first female Chief Minister of India. This article delved into the life, educational path and impactful contributions of Sucheta Kriplani to the domain of Indian politics.
Early Life and Education
Birth date: 25th June 1908
Birth place: Ambala, Punjab
Sucheta Majumdar, as she was originally known, was born into a Bengali family. Her father, a government doctor, instilled a deep sense of patriotism in her from a young age. She was a brilliant student and completed her education in prestigious institutions like Indraprastha College in New Delhi and St. Stephen’s College. Later, she became a lecturer of Constitutional History at Banaras Hindu University, displaying her early commitment to education and public service.
The Spark of Activism
Sucheta’s early exposure to the Jalliawala Bagh massacre and family discussions about it ignited a fervor for activism in her heart. Despite her initial self-consciousness about her appearance and intellect, she began to embrace her role in the national struggle. An incident during her school days, where she felt cowardice, served as a turning point, propelling her towards a life dedicated to the cause of India’s independence.
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Participation in Freedom Movement and Independence
As the Quit India Movement gained momentum, Sucheta Kripalani emerged as a fearless freedom fighter, actively participating in protests and actions against British rule. Her collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi during the Partition riots further solidified her commitment to the cause. She played a pivotal role in the Constituent Assembly, contributing to the drafting Indian Constitution and advocating for women’s rights by founding the All India Mahila Congress.
Entry into Politics
Following India’s independence, Sucheta Kripalani transitioned into a political career. She contested and won the first Lok Sabha elections in 1952 from New Delhi on a Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP) ticket, a party founded by her husband, J.B. Kripalani. Over the years, she continued to serve as a Member of Parliament from various constituencies, displaying strong and decisive leadership.
First Female Chief Minister in India
In October 1963, Sucheta Kripalani made history by becoming the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, becoming the first woman to hold such a position in India. Her tenure was marked by her firm handling of a state employees’ strike that lasted for 62 days, where she stood her ground and refused to give in to their demands for a pay hike.
Legacy and Retirement
Sucheta’s Kripalani’s legacy endures as a symbol of resilience, determination and pioneering leadership. She left an indelible mark as a freedom fighter, constitutional contributor and India’s first female Chief Minister. After congress split in 1969, she retired from active politics in 1971 and spent her remaining years in seclusion until her passing on December 1, 1974.