She has no pomp of a politician. She wears a starched white cotton saree, neatly pleated, reminding any Keralite of a government school teacher next door. A few years ago, she was Kerala’s health minister, praised even by the United Nations for tackling the Covid pandemic. Before that, she also played a significant role in handling the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. All of this made the 2021 Kerala Legislative Assembly a cakewalk for KK Shailaja, popularly known as Shailaja teacher.

Three years later, the teacher prepares for another battle — the 2024 parliamentary elections from Vadakara in Kerala. In between her campaign in Koothuparamba in Kannur, she had a wide-ranging chat with businessline