Health Minister KK Shailaja, who became the face of Kerala in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, has come up victorious in a political battle.
She won the Mattannur assembly constituency by over 61,000 votes. The extra votes, perhaps, came as a recognition of her performance as a minister.
'Rockstar Health Minister'
Popularly known as Shailaja Teacher, the 64-year-old former Physics teacher joined the political arena in 2004 and climbed the ladder through her membership in the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).
She became a minister in 2016 in the Pinnarayi Vijayan-led government. She is known for her quick thinking and actions that led to the containment of the Nipah virus in 2018 including the COVID-19 outbreak.
She was the first health minister to declare a 'state of emergency and establish a COVID-19 war room before the first case was registered in India on January 30.
She won popular appeal as she began daily briefings about the pandemic on live TV last year. Shailaja was also the main campaigner of 'Break the Chain', a coronavirus awareness campaign by the Kerala government.
Her efforts in maintaining the morale of the health care workers in Kerala and the swift containment of the Nipah virus has made the international media label her as 'Coronavirus Slayer' and 'Rockstar Health Minister'. She has also been featured in Vogue magazine.
Her response to various snide remarks made by the opposition party members in her charismatic style has created a newfound stature in the eyes of her people.
First Female CM of Kerala?
She quelled any rumours about being the next CM due to her newfound stature and popular appeal by saying "Here, in Kerala, at present, we have Pinarayi Vijayan, and so, the question of a female CM is not relevant. He led the state through the pandemic and other challenges. He has bold decision-making power and is capable of protecting the people of Kerala".