Nandini Satpathy was the first woman to hold the title of Chief Minister of Odisha state. She held that position from June 14, 1972, to December 16, 1976. There has never been a female Chief Minister in this state since she left office in 1976. This fact alone demonstrates Satpathy’s formidable leadership because she excelled in an arena where men dominate.
How Nandini Satpathy’s Leadership Skills Evolved
Nandini Satpathy came from a family of political activists. In fact, her uncle, Bhagavati Charan Panigrahi, founded Odisha’s branch of the Communist Party of India. She married a political activist as well. His name was Devendra Satpathy. He served the people of Dhenkanal in for two terms as a member of the lower house representing that constituency.
Her leadership skills came from her resolve as well. For example, she joined the student wing of the Communist Party when she was at Ravenshaw College. Later, she became a leader of a student protest movement that decried the rising costs of college education in India. She even went to jail for some time because of her participation in this movement.
Nandini Satpathy’s Ascendancy to Power
In 1962, the Legislative Assembly in Odisha State elected Satpathy to the Upper House. She served two terms in the Upper House. Then in 1966, she became an attached Minister to Indira Gandhi who had become the Prime Minister of India in that year. She returned to Odisha in 1972 becoming the first women CM of Odisha after vacancies left by politicians who were quitting the Congress Party.
Her Tenure as Chief Minister
She had prominent individuals jailed during the Emergency of June 1975 to March 1977. These people were Rama Devi and Nabakrusna Choudhuri. Interestingly, her state had the lowest number of individuals jailed during this period.
That means she took strong action against people who opposed her policies and those of the Indian government. However, she was not vindictive or overzealous in her pursuit of political opponents. Nandini Satpathy passed away on August 4, 2006.