Women Power? Watch out for Jaya, Maya and Mamata in LS Poll 2014

By Syed Ali Mujtaba,

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalithaa Jayaram, ex Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati and the Chief Ministers of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee are three key figures to watch out for the Lok Sabha election 2014.

Support TwoCircles

While Jayalalitha has 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and one in Pondicherry, Mayawati has stakes on 80 seats in UP. Mamata Banerjee is vying for 42 seats in West Bengal. They together eye on 162 Lok Sabha seats and if the electoral fortune favors them, anyone can emerge as the dark horse for Prime Minister’s position after the general elections.

While Jayalalitha and Mayawati has explicitly expressed their ambition for the Prime Minister’s post, Mamata Banerjee has chosen not to speak on this matter, keeping her options open.

Jayalalithaa Jayaram is the serving Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She has been the Chief Minister thrice earlier, of this state once for a brief period of time. Prior to entering politics, she was a popular heroine in south Indian cinema. She has acted in over 140 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi languages.

Jayalalithaa is credited to have initiated a number of reforms in Tamil Nadu. In 1992, her government introduced the “Cradle Baby Scheme” to check the practice of female infanticide and the abortion of female fetuses.

Her government was the first to introduce police stations operated solely by women. She introduced 30 per cent quota for women in all police jobs and established as many as 57 all-women police stations in the state. She has opened other all-women establishments like libraries, stores, banks and co-operatives. The credit also goes to her to set up India’s first company of female police commandos in Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalitha is competing in Tamil Nadu with the political rival the DMK to woo the poor voters. In the run up to the announcement of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Jayalalitha has launched Amma Canteens to sell food at affordable prices in the state. She also launched a scheme to provide quality and affordable drinking water to the people. She has also launched fair price vegetable shops in Chennai and its suburbs. Amma medical shops is her another initiative where medicines are made available at subsidized rates.

Jayalalitha’s political views are different from its rival the DMK. She has distanced from the anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin stand of the DMK. She has depoliticized education policy and is not insisting on the Tamil medium alone to be followed in the state. She is also ambivalent towards the reservation policy and supports the interest of the farmers and fishermen in the state. It’s because of all this, Jayalalitha is a highly popular leader in Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalitha aspires to become the Prime Minister of India. In her vision statement released recently, she has stated to assume a bigger role in the national politics. She is part of the non Congress no BJP, 11 party alliance. In case if this front emerge as the single largest majority in 2014 LS polls, Jayalalitha is a sure contender for the Prime Minister’s post.

At stake for Mayawati is 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. She is not part of any pre poll alliance and likes to keep her options open. If she is able to win half the seats, she is bound to play a decisive role in the national politics after the 2014 General Elections.

Mayawati has served four terms as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. She was Chief Minister briefly in 1995 and again in 1997, then from 2002 to 2003 and 2007 to 2012.

Mayawati’s primary support base is Dalits, OBC, and religious minorities in Uttar Pradesh. She advocates affirmative action like reservation for the dalits and other disadvantaged section of the society.

Mayawati aspires to become the Prime Minister of India. She had once commented;
‘when the political conditions enable her to become Prime Minister of the country she will formally convert to Buddhism.’

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is also keeping her political options open. With 42 Lok Sabha seats at stake, she can emerge as key player in the government formation after 2014 LS polls.

Mamata Banerjee has been MP from the Kolkata South in the 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009. She has been cabinet minister in several governments.

In 2011 state assembly elections, Mamata Banerjee created history when she pulled off a landslide victory, ending 34-year old CPI (M)-led Left Front rule in West Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee is the first woman Railway Minister to start women-only local trains in several metro cities in India. She has also introduced a number of non-stop Duronto Express trains connecting large Indian cities.

Mamata Banerjee is opposed to allow FDI in retail markets. She is also against frequent hike of petrol and diesel prices and wants them to be controlled. As a minister in Union cabinet she was vociferous supporter of the Women’s Reservation Bill

As Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has initiated various reforms in education and health sectors in West Bengal. This includes release of the monthly pay of the teachers on the first of every month and quicker pensions for retiring teachers. In health sector she initiated a three-phase developmental system to improve the heath infrastructure and service in the state. Mamata Banerjee is credited for achieving a full year without any reported polio cases in West Bengal.

In the Lok Sabha election 2014, pollsters have given her 20 to 25 out of 42 seats from West Bengal. In that case her role in the next government formation will be crucial. She has all the three options open for her; join NDA or UPA or the third front. Since she has been in alliance with both NDA and UPA earlier, she may very well try the third front option this time.

Jayalaitha in Tamil Nadu is also given 20-25 seats. Since, she is part of the non – BJP non Congress front, her first choice will be to work towards its majority in the Parliament. In case if it fails to take off, her support will either go to the BJP or the Congress. Given her proximity with Narender Modi, her first choice obviously would be to align with the BJP led NDA.

In case of Mayawati, pollsters are discounting her importance in the UP politics which is contrary to the ground reality. With Akhelaish Yadav government totally being discredited after the Muzaffarnagar riots, it’s the BSP that is the hot favorite among the Muslims in UP.

There is every possibility that Mayawati can deliver more than 40 MPs in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In that case she may join the ‘Third Front’ and replace her arch rival Mulayam Singh Yadav for the Prime Minister’s post. If the third front remains nonstarter, she always have a decisive role to play in the formation of the next government. Her support to the BJP led UPA can tilt the balance.

It may sound strange but true all three; Jaya, Maya and Mamata, are quite dissimilar to each other, but holds key to the 2014 LS polls. If they can connect together, they are capable to write a new chapter in Indian politics.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at [email protected]