Mail Today Bureau New Delhi, January 10, 2012 | UPDATED 09:54 IST
Powerpuff girls who rule Indian politics
Mayawati: The self-proclaimed messiah
NAME: Mayawati, 55
POSITIONS HELD: CM of Uttar Pradesh, president of Bahujan Samaj Party.
Serving her fourth term as UP CM
BETTER KNOWN AS: Behenji
She is the self-proclaimed messiah of poor Dalits but the plight of
the underprivileged has worsened under her rule. She raises her voice
against corruption at the Centre yet runs a state government that is
graft personified. She never loses an opportunity to take a jibe at
the very political rivals whom she has piggybacked to ascend to power.
She banks on confidants to keep her flush with funds but jettisons
them at the drop of a hat.
This, in a nutshell, is Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Bahujan Samaj
Party supremo Mayawati- whimsical, volatile and opportunistic. In a
recent display of mood swings, she gave the green light to a dozen
officials to fall in line with an Election Commission directive and
cover the statues at Ambedkar Memorial. But even before the officials
could begin obeying her command, they were asked to return.
Look at most powerful women politicians
It is widely believed that Mayawati allowed her government's former
family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha to function as the de
facto CM because he was her chief fund-raiser. But when he faced the
heat from investigating agencies, she dropped him like a hot potato.
Her brazen political expediency came to the fore when she sidelined
Rajya Sabha member and BSP's Brahmin face Satish Chandra Mishra a year
after winning the 2007 assembly elections, during which she had wooed
the upper castes. With the state set to go to the polls again,
Mayawati has re-inducted Mishra into her core team.
UP Congress Committee spokesperson Dwijendra Tripathi did not mince
words while describing Mayawati: "She can do anything anytime. She
believes dust will give her isnophilia, so officials are told to wash
the roads that fall on her route. In her book, she has compared
herself with Mughal emperor Babar and Queen Victoria."
Soon after taking over as CM in May 2007, Mayawati alleged that the
Congress wanted to eliminate her. Yet she offered outside support to
the Congress-led UPA-II in 2009 without batting an eyelid. Now, she
had begun spewing venom at the grand old party again.
Vijay Bahadur Pathak, spokesperson of the UP BJP, with which she has
hobnobbed several times in the past before parting ways amid acrimony,
said: "I want to remind Mayawati how her party had supported the
candidature of K.R. Narayanan as President owing to his Dalit status.
However, the BSP didn't back him for a second term because he didn't
impose President's rule in the state as she wished."
Mamata Banerjee: The enfant terrible
NAME: Mamata Banerjee, 56
POSITIONS HELD: CM of West Bengal, president of All India Trinamool Congress
BETTER KNOWN AS: Didi
Mamata has been consistently inconsistent, always switching sides,
changing friends, opinions and political allies.
She is probably the only leader who could swing from right to left,
from Maoists to security forces, from being the BJP's poster woman to
strike a 'namaaz' pose for poll posters. Now, a UPA enfant terrible,
Mamata was once the Youth Congress general secretary.
She snapped ties with the Congress in the late 90s and joined the
BJP-led NDA but soon walked out of it to strike an electoral tie-up
with the Congress. There is nothing predictable about her politics.
Even in West Bengal where she achieved probably the biggest upset win
in Indian politics by uprooting over three-decade-old rule by
Leftists, Mamata was often seen switching sides. Sometimes it was to
secure the 27% Muslim votes and sometimes to get Maoists by her side.
"Inconsistency has been a key feature in her (Mamata) political
career. All her decisions are guided by selfinterest," senior West
Bengal Congress leader Arunava Ghosh said. Once her Trinamool Congress
started emerging as the principal opposition to the ruling communists
in Bengal, Mamata took no time to dump the BJP and join hands with the
Congress to consolidate her base in the state. Her party's win in the
2008 panchayat polls prompted her to form an alliance with the
Congress and it paid in the 2009 general elections and the 2011
high-voltage assembly elections.
But even a landslide win has not tempered her. Within seven months she
is back to bickering with Congress and flouting the coalition dharma
with impunity. Once seen as a pro-Maoist politician, she has been
always vocal about the rights of the tribal population. But soon after
assuming power in the state, Mamata took a complete U-turn. Though she
had offered special package for the rebels but never tried to initiate
peace talks with them. According to political analyst Udayan Banerjee,
Mamata is changing the contours of Bengal politics by superimposing
the politics of identity and community over the class politics of the
Uma Bharti: The volatile sanyasin
NAME: Uma Bharti,52
POSITIONS HELD: CM of Madhya Pradesh in 2003. Senior BJP leader
BETTER KNOWN AS: Sexy Sanyasin
A Pamphlet distributed during assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh in
2003 listed Uma Bharti's ideological inspirations in the following
sequence - Che Guevara, Schumacher and Hanumanjee!
Though Uma would have perhaps made little distinction between the
intended inspirational figure - E. F. Schumacher, the writer of Small
is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered - and the Formula One
racing driver, the choice of ideals was as uniquely eclectic as the
lady herself. To this end, the suspected author of the pamphlet -
Uma's mentor K.N. Govindacharya - had hit the Bull's Eye.
Indeed, the saffron-robed sadhvi is a planet unto herself. Consider
the admirable grit that saw her rise from being the teller of epics
from nondescript Tikamgarh to the power corridors in Lutyens' Delhi.
She combines this determination with a rare warmth and charisma that
has few equals.
Hence she rose from the dust and demolition of the Ramjanmabhoomi. She
enthralled and repelled at the same time, hugging Murli Manohar Joshi
to celebrate the mosque demolition in an epical free-frame.
It was only a matter of time before she became a minister in NDA
government though the portfolios needed to be constantly shifted as
she quarreled incessantly with her seniors. The glory of her
subsequent triumph over Digvijaya Singh in Madhya Pradesh was
shortlived as the BJP got her to resign within a year.
Distraught, Uma fought openly with L.K. Advani in an unforgettable
meeting at the BJP headquarters. It saw her being suspended and, being
taken back a few months later at the instance of the RSS. By this
time, circa 2005, Uma had driven everyone to the brink with her
demands to be re-appointed MP CM. Sanjay Joshi, with whom she is
ironically working now in UP, was one of her famous victims. The story
goes that she locked herself in a room in the party office with Joshi
and would not let him out.
A harassed office secretary sent his wife to plead with Uma, fearful
as he was of hearing the colourful flurry of expletives she would have
inevitably hurled. The poor woman was subjected to such verbal abuse
that finally, a very senior leader had to intervene. Uma was sacked
subsequently after similar extraordinary capers but she is back again.
Though she is keeping an admirable hold over her free spirit, it is
almost certain that her mercurial self will assert once more. It is
not natural for her to be the picture of sobriety, after all.
Jayalalithaa: Impulsive diva who keeps them guessing
NAME: J.Jayalalithaa, 63
POSITIONS HELD: CM of Tamil Nadu,general secretary of AIADMK. She had
been CM of Tamil Nadu in 1991 and 2001.
BETTER KNOWN AS: Amma
What will be her next move? Is the question what most people around
Jayalalithaa keep asking. More so when she is in power.
The Poes Garden diva is known for her whimsical decisions, which does
not discriminate between friends or foes. The banishment of V.K.
Sasikala, her confidant of over two decades is the most recent
instance which establishes her unpredictability. She took a similar
step after losing power in 1996, but within months the two friends
were back together.
Her fickle-minded decisions have turned her cabinet into a game of
musical chairs, in which every legislator is waiting to be inducted
into the ministry. Most of them who are dropped are busy thinking
about the reasons for their exit. IAS and IPS officers are treated
with same nonchalance.
Her stance over the protest against Kudankulam nuclear power project
and the issue of clemency for the trio facing the noose for Rajiv
Gandhi's assassination case is also a case in point. Within days of
declaring that the state could do nothing for Rajiv's killers, she got
a resolution passed in the assembly pressing for clemency to them.
Similarly, soon after claiming that the nuclear plant was safe, her
cabinet asked the Centre to suspend all operations. Columnist Gnani
Sankaran said: "Politicians are fickle-minded and Jaya is no
exception. We can expect more such actions in the days to come."
With inputs from Piyush Srivastava, M.C. Rajan, Soudhriti Bhabani and
Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/powerful-women-politicians-mamata-maya-uma-bharti-jayalalithaa/1/168014.html
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