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Anandiben: Gujarat's first woman CM, India's 15th

Posted on May 22 2014 | IANS

By Vinod Taksal, New Delhi, May 22 : In Anandiben Patel, Gujarat has got its first woman chief minister and the country its 15th woman head of a state government.

Currently, J. Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal are the only two women politicians heading state governments.

With Gujarat now, almost all the big states of the country have been headed by a woman chief minister at some time or the other.

Maharashtra, Karnataka, undivided Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the only four major states -- besides the smaller northeastern states -- which have seen no woman chief minister.

Assam had a woman chief minister in Syeda Anwara Taimur. She headed the state from Dec 6, 1980 to June 31, 1981.

Freedom fighter Sucheta Kripalani, Congress president Acharya Kripalani's wife, was the first woman chief minister in India. She headed the Uttar Pradesh government 1963-67.

Born in Ambala and educated in the Indraprashta and St. Stephen's colleges in Delhi, she was elected to the Uttar Pradesh assembly from Kanpur and joined the state cabinet in 1962.

Uttar Pradesh has the distinction of having had two women chief ministers. Years after Kripalani, Mayawati headed the government briefly in 1996, and 1997, then in 2002-03, and for a full term 2007-12.

Punjab has had one woman chief minister in Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who governed from April 1996 till February 1997.

Delhi too has the distinction of two women chief ministers -- Sushma Swaraj, briefly in October-December 1998, and Shiela Dikshit, whose tenure of 15 years and 25 days from Dec 3, 1998 to Dec 28, 2013 is the longest for any woman chief minister in the country.

Rabri Devi of Bihar also had three tenures, succeeding her husband Lalu Prasad from July 1997 to February 1999. She again presided over Bihar from March 1999 to March 2000 and from March 2000 to March 2005.

Two women from the Bharatiya Janata Party have headed state governments -- Uma Bharati was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for one year in 2003-04. Vasundhara Raje, chief minister of Rajasthan since December 2013, held that office earlier for a full five-year term 2003-08.

Mamata Banerjee is the first woman chief minister of West Bengal and has held that office since May 2011.

For Jayalalithaa, this is the fourth term in the Tamil Nadu chief minister's office. She held office from 1991 to 1996, from May 2001 to September 2001, and from 2003 to 2006.

The briefest chief ministerial stint perhaps was of Janaki Ramachandran, who was chief minister of Tamil Nadu Jan 7-31, 1988, succeeding her husband M.G. Ramachandran or MGR following his death.

Nandini Satpathy was Odisha's chief minister twice -- June 1972-March 1973 and again March 1974-December 1976. So was Goa's Shashikala Kakodkar -- August 1973-June 1977 and June 1977-April 1979.

Among the states that have not had a woman chief minister yet are Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh also have not had a woman chief minister yet.

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