Iron Lady, Amma, Didi, Bua: Female Politicians Who Broke Glass Ceiling in Indian Politics
The Lok Sabha has only 14 per cent women MPs and the number goes down to just 11 per cent in the Rajya Sabha, according to a report. (Photo: News18)
Several women politicians including Indira Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee played important roles in shaping the country’s history
The participation of women in Indian politics is very low in comparison to men. The Lok Sabha has only 14 per cent women MPs and the number goes down to just 11 per cent in the Rajya Sabha, according to a report.
However, time and again, several names have emerged as a symbol of hope for future generations that politics is not a man’s game.
As India celebrates ‘Nari Shakti’ on International Women’s Day today, here’s a look at women politicians who played important roles in shaping the country’s history:
Indira Gandhi, daughter of India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, served as the minister for Information and Broadcasting (1964- 1966). She held the office of the Prime Minister of India from January 1966 to March 1977 and became PM again in January 1980 after Congress swept to power. She was assassinated on October 31, 1984. She also held the post of Congress president for several terms.
One of the most defining moments of her term as PM came in 1975 when she imposed an emergency after her election to the Lok Sabha in 1971 was declared void on the grounds of electoral malpractice by the Allahabad High Court. The emergency lasted for two years and the Congress faced a humiliating defeat in 1977.
During her term, India defeated Pakistan in the 1971 war and paved the way for Bangladesh (formerly west Pakistan).
After a successful career in films, Jayalalithaa began her political innings with MG Ramachandran’s AIADMK in 1982. She emerged as a leader in the AIADMK after the death of MGR by fighting opponents inside the party. In 1991, Jayalalithaa became Tamil Nadu’s youngest chief minister.
Jayalalithaa was known for his populist policies for women and was profoundly called “Amma” by his supporters. She passed away in September 2016.
Sonia tied the knot with former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi on February 25, 1968. After several years of Rajiv’s death, Sonia Gandhi took over as Congress president in 1998 and remained at the helm for the longest period of time. During her term, Congress won the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009 but lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014.
Her presidency ended when her son Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed for the top post in 2017. However, after the 2019 Lok Sabha rout, Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post of Congress president, taking “moral” responsibility. Later, Sonia Gandhi took charge as the interim president of the party and occupied the post till last year.
Sushma Swaraj served as the Minister of External Affairs during the first term of the Narendra Modi government. She held multiple portfolios during her political career and was elected to Parliament several times. She was also Delhi’s first female chief minister.
Swaraj died in 2019 at the age of 67 following a cardiac arrest.
Mamata Banerjee started her political career with Congress as a Youth Congress worker in the 1970s. She rose through the ranks in the party in a short time and became general secretary of the Mahila Congress and later All India Youth Congress. In 1984, she was elected to Lok Sabha.
However, she quit Congress later and founded the All India Trinamool Congress in 1997. After years of struggles and defeats, she ousted the 34-year-long CPI(M) regime in West Bengal and became the chief minister. Her party has swept three consecutive elections in a row. She is also the first female CM of the state.
Mayawati served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for four terms. She is fondly called as ‘bua’ in Uttar Pradesh and her party Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) primarily banks on Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. However, the political equations changed in 2017 when the BJP swept the power and since then the BSP is in the wilderness.
Mayawati has been serving as the national president of the BSP since 2003.
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