What is it about women and the electoral process in India ?
More than 500 seats to be won, and every party trying to cobble together a coalition.
The major parties, putting on a face of bravado. Various regional and state parties, playing hard to get in the face of their being avidly viewed as alliance partners, by any party trying to cobble up the required number of votes to form a coalition government.
There are big political names in the fray, veterans in politics and government, "career" minister types. There are professional doctors, economists, engineers, lawyers, artists, movie actors, cricketers, and even criminals , in the fray. (The trick is to have a lot of court cases, but delay them, so there are no convictions, thus allowing you to contest. ) .
There are even some children of ministers; by definition, they are all supposed to have inherited the election winning gene; but, I presume they have never heard of epigenetics, a field which investigates how our external environment, makes certain genetic characteristics "inoperative" , leaving the DNA unchanged.
As the election results day approaches, it is not unknown in recent days, for entire sets of elected party members of the smaller and regional parties, to be whisked off by their leaders to resorts and unknown places, so that they remain "occupied" and "unpoached " by the major parties. The papers are full of pictures of new MP's waving from luxury buses and planes, as they are being whisked off for all expenses and more type trips , till the additions and subtractions of government formation are finalised. As a lowly ex-employee who had to provide several documents to justify a Leave-Travel_Concession(LTC) by modes of travel specified by the government, I often wonder who pays for these pleasure jaunts of the MP's. Then I just read that a the country's leading industrial icons had just paid a visit to the big bosses of the incumbent government. Figures.
These are all small fry.
For some reason, national governance in India, has always had a lot to do with women.
The President of India, today is a lady, who was a former Parliamentarian. Its been a long time since the late Indira Gandhi was the PM, and there has been no woman PM since.
There are actually 3 women , whose every utterance and every action will be watched with great care in the next few days.
And who are the most important players in the whole thing?
Madam no 1. Sonia Gandhi.
A great example of how starting at the top of everything in life, works. She came as a bride into the PM's house, when the late Indira Gandhi was PM. Till to-date, she continues to enjoy the government's hospitality, residencewise, securitywise, and establishmentwise. Either she is very smart herself, or has some very smart advisers. I think the former is a more plausible alternative.
She has perfected the art of being the string puller. The puppets change. But they continue to dance as per her directions. She has also probably perfected the ability to forgive and forget, though one feels the former is done, and the latter is a function of electoral alliances for a possible coalition at the centre. And so she smilingly shares the dais with a person who is the lead supporter of the man who claims to have organized her husband's assassination.
Her son is being projected as the next saviour of the country. Once again starting at the top. Her daughter helps out, simultaneously declaring her distance from active politics, and gives her considered opinion that her brother, a novice, with no experience, would be an good PM.
Madam no 2. Mayawati.
A great example of starting from the rock bottom. Studied to be a lawyer. Met the right people at the right time, and took the "right" decisions. Very very creditable for someone who grew up in slums, experienced the male dominated society around her, opposed her father when he wanted to marry a second time for a son as his first yielded 3 daughters . Met her mentor is politics, learnt at his feet, and today, after fighting elections with all the associated unpleasant activities, controls a simple majority in her state, and hence a big chunk of possible electoral votes. Her state, the most populous, and backward, has the highest number of electoral votes assigned to it. Knows how to drive a hard bargain, will insist on the top spot, and so far has left all the political parties guessing on what she will do.
Has no qualms about erecting 18 statues to herself, 3 of which were dismantled because they were 3 feet shorter than she wanted. (She herself is 5 feet tall). Inaugurates her own statues, wears diamonds on her birthday with a 53 kg cake signifying the years she has walked the earth, and flies to Delhi the same day, in her own state aircraft, to have another celebration there. The current PM , on a trip to China, takes time out to call and wish her, and so does madam no 1 .
Madam no 3. Jayalalitha.
The south's contribution to the triumvirate that will actually decide, totally independently, who will be India's next PM. Started off as a heart-throb of millions in Tamil cinema, and made a wonderful pair with with the most popular actor there. This man fell out with another man (we will call him K), and started his own party, and dragged Jayalalitha with him. She remained, and has remained completely loyal to him, and heads the party now. Has a sort of following bordering on blind adoration . Her state TamilNadu, has been ruled alternately by her, and the aforementioned K, and both have tried their utmost best to humiliate the other while in power, in the very worst kind of physical way.
While her views about statues are not yet clear, she is great competition for Madam no 2, where massive, larger than life size cutouts are concerned. In actual life size, Madam no 3 is ahead of madam no 2. Madam no 3, controls a largish chunk of votes, which will do her bidding , if, as they say, the price is right.
As they say, these three ladies hold the key. Madams no 2 and 3 will drive a hard bargain. As they say, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.
But yes. I did read, that one of the statue-obsessed-Madams, has a special statue, her own, all organized and ready for installing , in its marble splendour, in Delhi, should the circumstances so indicate.
I thought times were bad. Jobs were scarce. People were being fired. Salaries were being frozen. Fees were increasing. Infrastructure was crumbling. And affordable housing was becoming scarce.
But I guess all these folks use a different currency for money.......