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Who Was Sucheta Kripalani – The First Female CM In India?

Posted: February 2, 2021

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Sucheta Kripalani, India’s first-ever woman Chief Minister was just as badass as a female CM ought to be. Here’s everything about her!

Sucheta Kripalani was one of the only fifteen women in the Constituent Assembly of 299 individuals. She went on to become the first female Chief Minister, as well, in 1963 for the state of United Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh). Here she represented the Indian National Congress. She left behind a legacy that continues to inspire women all over India.

How much do we know about the woman who paved the way for all young girls to dream about a life in politics? Here are some things you absolutely have to know about her. And you can also flex that GK muscle about another very significant female freedom fighter!

A teacher, freedom fighter and a political leader, Sucheta Kripalani dedicated her entire life to the service of her nation. She was even incarcerated for a year by the British for her commitment and work towards achieving Independence for India.

Who was Sucheta Kripalani?

Sucheta Kripalani was born on 25 June 1908 at Ambala, Haryana to Bengali Brahmo parents. The days of her childhood and youth shaped her unflinching dedication to the freedom struggle.

In her autobiography ‘An Unfinished Autobiography,’ she recounted the incidents that pushed her towards fighting for freedom. One of them was overhearing her father and his friends discuss the Jallianwala Bagh massacre when she was ten with her sister. It had left them outraged and thus began the story of Suchetana Kripalani (nee Mazumdar) the patriot, feminist and leader.

Her father had a transferable job as a medical practitioner and therefore, she attended various schools for her education. After completing her Master’s degree in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, she went on to teach history at the Benaras Hindu University.

The Nationalist movement was at its peak during this period and she encouraged her students to participate in it. This was where she met her husband, the Congress leader Acharya Kripalani.

Her contributions to the freedom struggle

Inspired by Acharya Kripalani’s politics and as a Gandhian, she started actively participating in the Satyagraha marches. She is also famously associated with the Quit India movement for her immense contributions.

In the early 1940s, she founded the women’s wing of the Congress called All India Mahila Congress. The organisation has only expanded over the years. Through this women’s organisation, she gave women a platform and encouraged them to participate in politics.

In 1947, she accompanied Mahatma Gandhi to the riot-torn regions in East Bengal to rehabilitate refugees. She worked closely with Gandhi during Partition.

Her immense contributions to the freedom struggle were acknowledged on the eve of Independence. Before Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic ‘Tryst with destiny’ speech, Kripalani sang ‘Vande Mataram,’ ‘Sare Jahan Se Achha’ and the national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana.’

The political leader in post-Independence India

After her participation in drafting the Constitution of India, she remained an active figure in the electoral political arena. She served as an MP from New Delhi constituency after winning the first Lok Sabha elections in 1952 from the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP). This was established by Acharya Kripalani. After her brief stint with KMPP, she returned to Congress due to ideological differences and continued her work from her New Delhi constituency in the next term.

Kripalani was also actively involved in international politics and foreign affairs. In 1949, she became the Indian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She is also credited with leading the Indian Delegation to the International Labour Organisation in 1971.

Sucheta Kripalani an inspiration even today

In 1963, she became the first female chief minister in India. She was elected as the Chief Minister from the state of United Provinces even before Indira Gandhi’s election as Prime Minister in 1967. She retired from politics in 1971.

The 17th Lok Sabha saw the highest participation of women since Independence. But of the total of 545 seats in Lok Sabha, only 78 of them are women. This comes to around 14 percent, which is far from the 33 percent reserved for women in local bodies.

Sucheta Kripalani won elections and made history at a time when the stakes were even higher and obstacles harder to overcome. She went from teaching history to making history, thus inspiring women all over the nation.

Picture credits: YouTube.

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An undergraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional

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