Danasari Anasuya, Naxalite-turned-MLA with a PhD and a heart that always cares for her fellow humans

The tribal leader completed her doctorate on the status of Gotti Koyas. With deep roots in left-wing politics, helping people in distress is second nature for her.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Dec 14, 2023 | 3:30 PMUpdatedDec 14, 2023 | 3:36 PM

Telangana MLA Danasari Anasuya or Seethakka with her father

(Note: This article was originally published on 16 October, 2022, and is being republished on 14 December, 2023, following Danasari Anasuya alisa Seethakka taking charge as the minister for Panchayat Raj and Rural Development including Rural Water Supply, and Women and Child Welfare departments in Telangana.)

At the tender age of 16, Danasari Anasuya took to guns. She faced police bullets, led a dalam of CPI-ML (CP), went underground, came back into the mainstream, and became an MLA and a lawyer. She has now finished her PhD — for research into the status of Gotti Koyas.

Normally, such transformation is rare. But in the case of 51-year-old Anasuya, a Koya herself and now a Congress MLA in Telangana, the change is so complete that one’s jaw would drop in surprise when one gets a closer look at the life she led while fighting for tribals when she was underground.

After becoming an MLA, she did not digress from the path of going to the rescue of her people in the jungles. However unforgiving a situation — such as the Covid-induced lockdown or floods in hamlets — she was always on the move. Hers is a heart that always cares for her fellow humans.

The other day when Anasuya, known fondly to her tribespeople as Seethakka, received the certificate that she was qualified for the conferment of PhD by Osmania University, she was overcome with emotion. She tweeted: “In my childhood I never thought I would be a Naxalite, when I am Naxalite I never thought I would be a lawyer, when I am a lawyer I never thought I would be MLA when I am MLA I never thought I will pursue my PhD. Now you can call me Dr Anusuya Seethakka PhD in political science.”

Danasari Anasuya, lawmaker with a difference

Congress legislator Danasari Anasuya, who represents Mulugu in the Telangana Assembly, is a lawmaker with a difference. She is not like those MLAs who present a countenance of one being ready to help others but do exactly the opposite.

Her heart responds, reacts, and bleeds when any natural calamity or difficulty visits her people back in her Mulugu constituency. Nothing would stop her from reaching out to them. With whatever mode of transport that is available, she would rush there to be with them, sharing their grief and helping them to the extent possible.

Helping people in distress

With deep roots in left-wing politics, helping people in distress is second nature for this tribal woman leader. In fact, her commitment and tenacity to be in the midst of her people when she is most needed came in for praise when she took groceries to the Gotti Koyas who were starving on account of the lockdown in 2020.

Again, when furious waters of the Godavari began ravaging the tribal hamlets in her Mulugu constituency, a majority of which is covered by thick jungles, no one could restrain Anasuya. Reaching the villages is a Herculean task but not for her as she knew the terrain like the back of her hand. It is the land where she had led her dalam, trying to help the tribals who were being exploited by the landed gentry and freeing lands they had occupied.

Dasari Anasuya or Seethakka

When floods invaded the habitations of the tribals, it was Seethakka — as Anasuya is fondly called — and not officials who reached them first (Twitter/ Dasari Anasuya)

When floods invaded their habitations, it was Seethakka and not officials who reached them first. She waded through the swirling waters and became the cause for the smiles on the tribals’ faces as she distributed groceries to them.

At a time when people all over the world were afraid of stepping out for fear of contracting Covid, she reached the hamlets, rugged terrains notwithstanding, in her constituency and distributed rations to tribes, particularly to Gotti Koyas who had migrated to Telangana from neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

As they were not residents of Telangana, they were ineligible for the ration that the government was distributing to tribals at that time. The Congress legislator reached them on tractors and two-wheelers and provided them with groceries. Though age shows on her face, it quickly surrenders to her steely resolve while negotiating the rugged terrains of the hinterland to reach her people.

Bullets to Assembly

Anasuya, who hails from Jaggannapet in Mulugu district, joined CPI-ML (Chandra Pulla Reddy) immediately after she completed her SSC in 1988. She quickly rose through the ranks and commandeered a dalam. She had faced police bullets in several encounters but survived because of her battle skills. She knew how to avoid being caught.

In the late 90s, Anasuya became a changed woman. She cast away her Naxalite uniform, eschewing the extreme left-wing path that she believed was the only way to bring justice to the disadvantaged. After 11 years of being underground, she decided to try democracy.

Dasari Anasuya with Sonia Gandhi

Dasari Anasuya with Sonia Gandhi (Twitter/Dasari Anasuya)

In 2004, Anasuya contested from Mulugu for the Assembly as a TDP nominee but lost the election. But in 2009, she won and after the bifurcation of the state in 2014, she won the election again in 2018 on the Congress ticket, despite a powerful TRS wave. She became the general secretary of the All India Mahila Congress and the party in-charge of Chattisgarh.

In the Assembly, she raised her voice over the continuing injustice to tribals who have no access to proper shelter, healthcare or education. As she argues their case, one can see the genuineness of her feelings for them.