Kannur: Kerala's popular Health Minister K K Shailaja was once a resourceful teacher at the Sivapuram Higher Secondary School at Mattannur in Kerala’s Kannur district. After quitting her teaching career, Shailaja plunged headlong into politics and has so far displayed great political acumen by turning crisis into strength. Her tenure as the leader of the All-India Democratic Women's Association and also as the state Health Minister are testimony to her mettle.
On Sunday Shailaja romped to victory from the Mattannur constituency by securing the highest victory margin in the history of the Kerala Legislative Assembly election. The CPM views the record margin of 60,963 votes as a reflection of the popularity that Shailaja garnered as the Health Minister.
Her aunt M K Kalyaniamma, who had worked for the Communist party when it was banned, was Shailaja's inspiration to make a political entry. Shailaja cut her political teeth with the SFI and then became part of the DYFI state committee, both being the frontal organisations of the CPM.
During her days with the DYFI, Shailaja became acquainted to K Bhaskaran and eventually married him. Though she got a job as a teacher, her mind was still fixed on politics. Even with seven years of service left, she retired voluntarily. In between, she had been the state secretary and national secretary of the All-India Democratic Women's Association.
While she was the Women's Association leader, she got beaten up by the police during several agitations during the UDF rule. As a mark of recognition of her diligence, Shailaja was appointed to the CPM central committee. She was elected to the Assembly once from Peravoor and twice from Koothuparamba. She lost once in Peravoor.
Shailaja was the Health Minister at a time when the health sector in Kerala faced its biggest challenge. She won even international acclaim for the efforts to protect the state from Nipah and Covid.
Latest electoral win
Shailaja had to let go of the Kuthuparamba seat for the LJD that had newly joined the front. Instead she contested from the Mattannur constituency, which included her native place as well. The record margin in the state’s history is proof that the Shailaja has been enamoured by the people.
Shailaja's husband Bhaskaran is the former chairman of Mattannur Municipality and a member of the CPM's Mattannur area committee. Shobith and Lasith are their children.