Anasuiya Uikey, the new Chhattisgarh Governor, was a strong contender for the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat to take on Nakul Nath, son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, the senior Congress leader who brought her into politics nearly four decades ago.
The BJP was looking for a strong tribal face to challenge the Nath family in its pocket borough, and Nath senior was also contesting a by-election to validate his stay in office from the eponymous Assembly segment.
Nath junior eventually defeated the BJP’s Nathansaha Kawreti by just over 37,000 votes.
“Sab mukaddar ki bat hoti hai. Maine koi jugaad nahi kiya thha ladne ke liye. Party ka aadesh hota toh ladhti (it’s all destiny. I did not wangle for the ticket. Had the party directed, I would have contested),” Uikey, vice-chairman of the National Scheduled Tribes Commission (NSTC), told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
About her new post, Uikey, 62-year-old, who still had six months for her tenure at NSTC to end, said, “I had no idea — the Prime Minister decides it all. Only he knows how he weighs people. It depends on him — who to give what responsibility. Getting such a big responsibility was beyond my dreams.”
Not willing to hazard a guess on what prompted the Prime Minister or party president Amit Shah to pick her for the Governor’s role, Uikey said, “Maybe the efforts I put in to bring awareness among tribal women, or the work I did between 2000 and 2005 on problems faced by tribal women in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand…may be my overall experience…”
Uikey was a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh between 2006 and 2012. In 1985, she was among the youngest MLAs elected to the then undivided MP Assembly. A couple of years later she was made a minister for Women and Child Welfare in the Arjun Singh government.
A graduate in Law and postgraduate in Economics, Uikey taught Economics at Tamia Government College Chhindwara for three years before entering politics.
“She was not given a ticket by the Congress in the 1990 elections, so she switched loyalty to the BJP the following year,’’ recalls BJP leader Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh.
Even though she lost the 1993 and 1998 elections on a BJP ticket, her political stature continued to grow.
Born in a modest family in Rohanakala village of Chhindwara district, she avoids talking about why she joined the BJP. A Gond tribal, she was active in student politics between 1971 and 1981 before joining the Congress. Her political activities were primarily in Mahakaushal region of the state.